Federal food inspectors in Brazil began a 24-hour protest yesterday, July 17, just as officials from Brazil and the US met to discuss the current beef ban, according to Reuters.

Inspections of meatpacking companies were slowed down as a result of the protest.

A statement released by the inspectors’ union, Anffa Sindical, recommended that its members should refrain from accessing the agriculture ministry’s databases linked to foreign trade activities, Reuters reported.

This move would slow on-site checks and export oversight, it added.

Brazil’s Minister for Agriculture, Blairo Maggi, met with the US Agriculture Secretary, Sonny Perdue, in Washington DC as the protest began – to discuss concerns about safety checks of fresh beef.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the suspension of all fresh beef imports from Brazil – due to “recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market”.

Maggi visited the US in order to seek a lifting of the ban, which originally was issued one month ago.

However, Brazil’s Anffa union believes there is a shortage of inspectors and demanded that the government hire 1,600 more, according to Reuters.

Inspectors are also protesting over the temporary hiring of veterinarians to handle emergency meat inspections, Reuters added.

If inspectors’ demands are not met, the union reportedly said that the protest will be repeated next week for a 48-hour period – starting on July 24.

Following the meeting, Maggi allegedly said that it could take between 30 and 60 days for the US to lift a ban on imports of fresh Brazilian beef.

But this timeline has been refuted by Perdue. He reportedly outlined that Brazil needs to make progress on inspections before any timeline can be set to end a US ban on imports of fresh Brazilian beef.

Fresh beef shipments to the US represents 3% of Brazil’s beef exports and were worth a total of $58.1 million (€50.2 million) from January to June, Reuters concluded.