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US halts beef imports from Brazil due to food safety concerns

June 23, 2017
  • Since March, 11% of beef supplies from Brazil rejected by U.S.
  • ‘First priority is to protect American consumers,’ Perdue says

The U.S. suspended all fresh beef imports from Brazil, the world’s second-largest producer, citing “recurring” food safety concerns.

The ban will remain in place until satisfactory corrective actions are taken, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday in a statement.

All supplies from Brazil have been inspected since March, when some of the country’s top meat producers became embroiled in a tainted-meat scandal. During that time, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service refused entry to 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef imports, compared with 1 percent of shipments from other nations, the USDA said. The total amount rejected was about 1.9 million pounds.

“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,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in the statement. “That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.”

JBS, Marfrig

On Wednesday, Brazil suspended five meatpacking plants from exporting to the U.S, including from Marfrig Global Foods SA, JBS SA and Minerva SA. The new action by the USDA supersedes those restrictions, the agency said.

The U.S. is a minor importer of Brazilian beef, buying only 2 percent of the country’s shipments this year through May, according to Brazil’s exporter group Abiec. The U.S. is the top beef producer.

Marfrig Global Foods, Brazil’s second-biggest meat company, said in an emailed response to questions that it’s taking all the necessary measures to meet U.S. requirements in order to resume fresh-beef exports to the country. JBS SA, the top producer, declined to comment while Minerva SA, which ranks third, and Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry didn’t immediately comment on the matter.

Producers in the U.S. applauded USDA’s decision.

“We urge them to avoid similar circumstances in the futures by following more rigorous importation standard,” the National Farmers Union said by email.

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