US Halts Imports of Brazilian Beef

US Suspends Imports of Brazil Beef Due to Recurring Concerns About Product Safety

Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
Five Brazilian slaughterhouses suspended beef exports following adverse reactions among cattle to a foot-and-mouth vaccine, Dow Jones Newswires reported Thursday. (DTN file photo)

WASHINGTON (DTN) -- U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday announced the suspension of all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market.

The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action that USDA finds satisfactory.

USDA said in a news release, "Since March, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been inspecting 100% of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11% of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1% of shipments from the rest of the world."

"Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.

"The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. Today's action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension."

Dow Jones Newswires reported on Thursday that the five Brazilian slaughterhouses were suspending beef exports following adverse reactions among cattle to a foot-and-mouth vaccine, according to the national meat-exporting group Abiec.

Brazil's agriculture ministry said the reaction posed no health risks and that the suspension was intended to give the owners of the slaughterhouses time to provide information to authorities and take measures to correct the situation, Dow Jones reported.

Perdue issued the following statement in regard to the U.S. halting imports of Brazil beef:

"Ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply is one of our critical missions, and it's one we undertake with great seriousness. Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That's what we've done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.

"I commend the work of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families."

Some U.S. cattle producers and their representatives in Congress have previously called on USDA to halt imports due to the scandals surrounding the JBS meat company.

National Cattlemen's Beef Association President Craig Uden issued a news release late Thursday supporting USDA's action.

"NCBA supports the action taken by Secretary Perdue to suspend fresh beef imports from Brazil. This action is the result of USDA's strong, science-based testing protocol of imported beef and this proves that our food safety system works effectively. NCBA supports USDA's commitment to science-based trade and its commitment to keeping our food supply as safe as possible," Uden stated in the release.

(AG)