Washington D.C. — Members of the Safe Food Coalition today are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture to reconsider its decision to continue allowing Brazilian meat and poultry products to enter the country. This decision, by the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) came in the wake of an investigation revealing widespread corruption and unsanitary practices in Brazil’s meatpacking industry. Allegations of alarming practices—including company officials dictating the placement of health inspectors, health certificates being falsified, the use of cancer-causing chemicals to disguise rotting meat, and the shipment of contaminated meat to Europe—have led major U.S. trading partners to implement partial or total bans on meat products from Brazil. These countries include Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and Uruguay.
U.S. and international law gives FSIS officials ample authority to enact a similar ban on Brazilian meat imports. However, the agency has refused to take action, opting instead to re-inspect shipments of Brazilian beef and subject them to more rigorous pathogen testing. These half-measures “will expose American consumers to unnecessary risks, and American taxpayers to unnecessary costs,” according to the coalition.
The recent investigation is the latest in a series of revelations that have cast doubt on whether Brazil’s food safety system actually meets U.S. standards for “equivalency.” Past food safety problems, like excessive residues of the drug ivermectin, will not be targeted by FSIS re-inspections. Safe Food Coalition members worry that U.S. officials will not adequately review whether Brazil’s food safety inspection system is actually “equivalent” until it is too late, and urge the Administration to take action before American consumers begin getting sick.
Contact: Thomas Gremillion, 202-939-1010
The Safe Food Coalition is made up of consumer, public health and victim groups who work on issues related to food, and organizations representing labor in the food industry.