7 Brazilian meat plants to be delisted by the EU

Seven Brazilian meat and poultry plants are expected to be removed from the European Union’s list of authorised EU suppliers this Thursday (March 8) in response to concerns relating to food safety.

It is understood that following an examination of information from the EU’s Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) the facilities – including three plants owned by global meat giant JBS; three owned by Brazil’s third-largest pork and poultry processor Aurora Alimentos; and another leading Brazilian poultry establishment – the decision was made to delist the companies.

It is understood that the problems arose in the aftermath of last year’s major Brazilian beef scandal when it emerged that health inspectors there had been taking bribes to approve sub-standard meat.

A spokesperson for the European Commission’s Health, Food Safety and Energy Union confirmed the development to AgriLand.

“A draft commission regulation on the delisting of certain third country establishments from which imports of specified products of animal origin are permitted was presented to member states at the Standing Committee meeting on Plant Animal Food and Feed on February 28.

“The draft proposes to delist certain Brazilian establishments from which imports of products of animal origin are currently authorised. The measure is related to the deficiencies recently detected in the Brazilian official control system.

“As the text was simply presented to national experts from member states a possible vote/decision will only take place at a later stage – date to be confirmed,” the spokesperson said.

Red-line issue

The EU Commission has been coming under increased pressure from European farm lobby groups to restrict imports of Brazilian meat under the pending EU/Mercosur trade deal.

AgriLand understands that the EU is prepared to up its annual quota offer from 70,000t to 99,000t in a bid to close the drawn-out deal with the South American trade bloc consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Commenting on recent developments, Pat McCormack, president of Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) said any processing plants and related facilities found to be deficient should be “immediately banned” by the EU – rather than waiting for a future date.

“Irish and EU farmers are being put at a competitive disadvantage by being forced to compete with imports with inferior standards. There is a clear responsibility on the EU Commission to put a stop to this.

The decision to delist plants and reject consignments from Brazil is welcome; but, ICMSA believes that there needs to be a much bigger focus on the standards in place for food imported into the EU and that farmers and consumers are protected in this regard.

In terms of the Mercusor negotiations, McCormack said the delisting of processing plants, and the rejection of consignments, raises serious questions in relation to the negotiating position of the EU Commission.

A red-line should be drawn in relation to food – and in particular beef – with absolutely no further concessions and no additional quota offers above current levels.

“There needs to be a clear insistence that, going forward, food imports to the EU must fully meet EU standards in relation to food safety and the environment in particular.

“The sell-out of Irish beef in the Mercusor negotiations must not be allowed to happen,” he concluded.