November 22, 2021

 

US politicians aim to stop beef imports from Brazil


 

US Senator Jon Tester and Representative Rosa DeLauro from the United States' House of Representatives and Senate have sought to suspend Brazil's beef exports to the country and are willing to make it happen with legislation.

 

Tester, the only farmer in the senate, wants a study of safety risks involving Brazilian beef following what he calls "repeated reporting issues" involving delayed reporting of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Brazilian beef. He also called for a suspension on Brazilian beef imports to the US "until experts can conduct a systematic review of the commodity’s safety."

 

"Montanans demand the highest level of safety and certainty in their beef, and Brazilian imports aren’t making the cut," said Tester.

 

"Folks expect their beef to have been rigorously tested against the strictest of standards, and concerns about Brazilian imports not only jeopardise consumer trust, but present a serious risk to Montana producers. We owe it to our domestic producers and consumers to halt Brazilian imports until we can guarantee their beef and reporting standards are making the grade."

 

On September 3 this year, Brazil announced two cases of atypical BSE that were detected in June. Most countries report similar cases to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) immediately – with both the United Kingdom and Germany this year reporting cases to OIE within days of their occurrence earlier this year – but Brazil reported its cases more than two months after the fact. This has been a routine occurrence, with Brazil also waiting months or even years to report similar cases in 2019, 2014 and 2012.

 

Tester's bill would ensure that Brazilian beef is safe to eat before it is brought back into US markets by imposing a moratorium on Brazilian beef until a group of food safety and trade experts has made a recommendation regarding its import status. The legislation is supported by the US Cattlemen's Association, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and R-CALF USA.

 

DeLauro, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to immediately suspend all imports of beef from Brazil after the country failed to promptly report cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy earlier this summer.

 

"I write urging you to use your authority to halt imports of beef from Brazil into the United States immediately," wrote DeLauro. "The decision by Brazilian officials to hide the country's June 2021 cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy for months was reckless and appalling. Actions such as these threaten international efforts to combat outbreaks of animal diseases around the globe.

 

"At the same time, we have known for years the underlying structural problems with Brazil's meat inspection system. We should act before a crisis occurs in order to protect American consumers, their families and the farmers and ranchers of this country. This issue is made worse by our lack of mandatory country of origin labeling. Families are left without an option to tell where their beef comes from, and farmers and ranchers are forced to compete against beef imported from a country that refuses to play by the rules."

 

- Food Safety News