The UFU said the decision by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban imports of fresh Brazilian beef echoes its concerns that sanctions by the European Union have not matched the scale of shortcomings highlighted by allegations of bribery to allow the export of sub-standard meat.
Barclay Bell, UFU president, said: “It is wrong that the European Commission is pressing ahead with attempts to secure a free trade deal with the Mercosur countries of South America, when there is such a big question mark over the fitness of one of the key players to export food.
“We agree with other farm lobby organisations that these talks should be delayed until that is resolved. We know Commission veterinary officials have visited Brazil, and the Commission is suggesting the problems found can be resolved. We would like to see their report in full, so that we can decide whether this is an effective approach. If the Commission will not make that report public, I would urge MEPs to press for its release.”
The UFU president said that nothing that had emerged from the Commission or in Brazil had altered his view that a full scale ban on imports of Brazilian beef to Europe should be implemented immediately. “If the US believes that is appropriate, the Commission must explain why it is adopting a more forgiving stance towards the widespread flouting of global trading rules by Brazil,” he added.
In a statement to Reuters, the European Commission said it would step up safety checks on Brazilian meat exports to the EU.
An EU audit conducted in May identified “systematic failures” in Brazil, particularly in horse and poultry meat and meat preparations and products. Consignments have been rejected by the EU for several reasons including the presence of salmonella on poultry meat and STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli) on beef.
A new audit will be carried out by the end of 2017 to assess the effectiveness of the measures and “should Brazil fail on such implementation, however, the Commission might have to take additional measures in order to protect the health of EU consumers,” according to a spokesperson.