WASHINGTON – The government of the United States stopped on Thursday all imports of fresh beef from Brazil, one of the world’s largest red meat exporters, due to concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement that the ban “will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory.”
“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,” US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in the statement.
The decision came after a series of controls that the Department of Agriculture began to impose on these imports in March, when it was revealed that some Brazilian meat packers bribed health inspectors to approve their rotten substandard products.
According to the Brazilian police, some producers, including giant exporters’ plants like JBS and BRF, had conspired with corrupt health inspectors to use chemical ingredients to cover the physical aspects of rotten meat products.
The scandal, also known as “weak meat,” led major buyer countries like China, Hong Kong and the European Union (EU) to temporarily curtail meat imports from Brazil.
The US decision to restrict Brazilian meat imports is based on controls initiated since March by the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which has been scrutinizing “100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil,” according to the statement.
“FSIS has refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of one percent of shipments from the rest of the world,” the statement said.
“Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues,” the note added.
USDA underscored that “none of the rejected lots made it into the US market.”
JBS, one of the world’s largest fresh meat exporters implicated in the meat scandal, is facing another corruption case in which Brazilian President Michel Temer is also involved.
The investigation into the corruption scandal commenced after several JBS executives who, in addition to accusing Temer of allegedly accepting bribes since 2010 and unveiling an explosive audio recording which caught the president in action, confessed to having paid bribes to 1,829 politicians of 28 parties.