Brazil unhappy as European Commission drafts ban on meat exports

By Liz Newmark, in Brussels

- Last updated on GMT

Meat from 20 Brazilian companies has been banned from the EU
Meat from 20 Brazilian companies has been banned from the EU
The European Commission has proposed stopping 20 Brazilian companies exporting meat products into the European Union (EU), following a unanimous vote at the 18-19 April European Commission special committee of member state experts on plants, animals, food and feed.

A Commission spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews​ the measure delisting companies from those allowed to export poultry meat “relates to deficiencies detected in the Brazilian official control system”​. She said it would apply two days after publication in the EU’s Official Journal​, which, unless the Council objects, is “expected around the end of May”.

Company names cannot yet be revealed until the Commission formally adopts the legal text, the spokesperson continued, “for commercial reasons”​.

She added firms cannot appeal, as “it was a unilateral decision. The establishments must first comply with EU standards and build a track record of compliance”​, and then exports maybe approved once again.

The Commission is now finalising a report from a January audit of Brazilian meat health controls, and another will follow “as soon as there are signs Brazil has taken action to comply with EU standards”, ​the spokesperson explained.

But a Brussels-based Brazilian official opposed the “restrictive measure”​, saying the authorities had “reassured the Commission many times that all necessary measures were being taken”​ to ensure its meat exports were healthy.

She assured GlobalMeatNews​ that Brazil was working to “correct any shortcomings detected”​ and “performing important changes to improve its official controls”​.

Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities were investigating reasons for the decision to delist the poultry meat companies – only one was a cold store allowed to export beef, she said, doubting they were supported scientifically.

Indeed, she claimed several production plants were listed, “for the sole reason that they belong to the same food producer, which had one of its plants involved in a fraud investigation”​.

Moreover, no reports had revealed any products from the poultry meat plants were “damaging to human health”​, she said.

But the Brazilian poultry sector fears damage on employment levels by the decision, she noted, as it says “thousands of jobs depend on EU imports”.

The official warned the ban on “very productive plants”​ that export to the EU “may also dismantle part of the food chain dedicated to export specific cuts of poultry meat”​. This would affect not only the main companies, but also “small producers in the countryside​”.

The vote follows EU farm body Copa-Cogeca’s demands for stricter measures, following new fraud cases uncovered in the Brazil meat sector in March, after the “falsified export certificates and ignored veterinary requirements”​ seen last year.

“Naturally, we support the decision,”​ Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen told GlobalMeatNews​. But he worried if, given the “repetitive nature of these fraudulent practices”​, Mercosur [the South American trading bloc] countries’ authorities would be able to succeed in enforcing European import standards required in any trade deal with the EU.  “This will seriously question the ongoing trade negotiation process,” ​he said.

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