US Department of Agriculture (USDA) secretary Perdue met with his Brazilian counterpart Blairo Maggi in Washington last week to discuss a ban on Brazilian beef imports, which came into effect on 22 June.
Blairo Maggi has said he wanted fresh beef exports to the US – which were only restored in 2016 after being banned since 2003 – to be resumed within two months. But Perdue seemed less than optimistic about this happening.
“We will not allow food into this country that we believe to be not in the best compliance of sanitary and phytosanitary methods of both producing and processing,” he said, adding: “[It is] going to be very challenging actually [to lift the ban in 60 days]. We think it’s probably going to take a lot of auditing in Brazil.”
In March, a number of Brazilian meatpackers were hit with by a scandal involving the alleged bribery of government food safety officials and the sale of meat unfit for public consumption. This led many countries, including China and Hong Kong, to ban Brazilian meat.
The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stepped up import inspections too. And from March to June, the agency stopped 11% of fresh Brazilian beef consignments from entering the US, a figure substantially higher than FSIS’ base refusal rate of 1% for the rest of the world.
“I mentioned specifically to the secretary [Blairo Maggi] that there has been compromise on some of their inspection systems down there [in Brazil]. We want to make sure they are rooted out. He is very concerned about that himself, but he’s also concerned about the resources they have to do their job as well,” said Perdue.