The call came from the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), following a USDA audit report that stated the Food Safety Inspection Service is “failing to verify that imported food meets safety standards that are equivalent to US standards”. The CPA believes that Brazilian fresh meat and Chinese poultry should not be sold to consumers until those products can be determined consistently safe.
“USDA discriminates in favour of imported food products through lax or unenforced standards in relation to American food products,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of CPA. “US meat and poultry producers have government inspectors in their plants daily to determine safety. Record keeping documentation is significant. Critical control point systems are verified and upgraded regularly. Imported products are not subject to these standards and are not labeled as to country of origin.”
The CPA added that “instead of direct inspection, the multinational food import lobby helped establish lax laws creating the illusion of foreign country food safety ‘equivalence’”.
“Under these laws, the USDA is supposed to verify that other countries’ food safety system - on paper - is 'equivalent' to the US system. But the USDA report found that the agency does not do so. The Food Safety Inspection Service fails to audit equivalent countries on an adequate basis, the FSIS inspection program is vulnerable to weaknesses and, as a result, the agency could be allowing unsafe imports. These failures increase the risk to public health within the United States, according to the report.”
Stumo added that until the same standards can be applied to domestic and foreign foods, imports from Brazil and China should be stopped.
“Equivalency is inherently a fictional standard which pretends to establish that imported food is subject to the same safety standards as US produced food,” he said. “Equivalency should be eliminated in favor of direct inspection and testing which is truly the same as for domestic meat and poultry. In the meantime, the USDA should refuse to allow imported meat and poultry from countries with questionable food safety systems, especially from Brazil and China.”