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Countries continue to find Salmonella in Brazilian meat

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By Joe Whitworth+

Last updated on 06-Jul-2017 at 12:46 GMT2017-07-06T12:46:04Z

Brazil has found no Salmonella in exported poultry but EU countries have positive results. ©iStock/vikif
Brazil has found no Salmonella in exported poultry but EU countries have positive results. ©iStock/vikif

Border rejections for Salmonella in chicken from Brazil have been reported by six countries in the last week.

In the only RASFF notification to specify the serovar, Bulgaria said it had found Salmonella Heidelberg in one out of five samples /25g in frozen chicken livers.

Salmonella was detected in frozen salted chicken breasts by the Netherlands, in frozen salted chicken half breasts by Germany and the UK and in frozen chicken liver by France and Romania.

The European Commission said of 5,972 consignments checked since the beginning of measures (20 March), including 1,566 lab checks there have been 176 rejections: 133 for Salmonella on poultry meat, five for STEC on beef meat, two for drug residues on horse meat and 36 for other reasons.

Positive results of Salmonella on 1,319 tested consignments of poultry meat equals a prevalence of 10.1%.

Brazil: EU poultry exports are safe

The Departamento de Inspeção de Produtos de Origem Animal (Dipoa) of the Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (MAPA) in Brazil said analyses at meatpacking plants did not find Salmonella enteritidis or Salmonella typhimurium.

Testing was in response to non-conformities identified by a European audit in Brazil in May.

The Commission said the draft report of the audit has been sent to the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture for comments on the factual content and will be made publicly available soon.

The Ministry will hire 300 veterinarians within the next 60 days that will go to units that export to the European Union and conduct assessments before and after slaughter.

The move is in response to the EU demand for meatpackers to improve inspection of products.

In 2016, European countries bought US$1.8bn of meat from Brazil and, until May, imports reached US$648m.

Poultry shipments totaled US$338m in the first five months of 2017, followed by beef cuts, with US$221m; turkeys, US$83m and pigs US$ 166,000.

Imports of fresh beef from Brazil were banned in late June until further notice by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

MAPA said it was working on new forms of cuts for meat exports to the US to facilitate resumption of shipments to the market.

The Brazilian Association of Beef Industry (ABIEC) said it ‘regrets’ the suspension and said corrective actions to adapt production processes are already being taken.

EU reinforces checks

The Commission said it was aware of the US decision to ban imports of meat from Brazil.

It said ‘additional measures’ have been implemented since March and ‘reinforced checks’ at EU borders will remain in place.

Reinforced controls at the EU border inspection posts mean 100% physical and 20% of microbiological (lab) checks.

On 7 June, Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis wrote to Brazil to request additional measures. The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture replied on 19 June accepting the measures and verification of implementation is ongoing.

They include removal of all horse meat slaughterhouses and horse-exporting companies from sites eligible for export to the EU and introduce 100% pre-export microbiological checks for export of poultry meat and preparations to the EU, backed up by a health certificate stating consignments were analysed for Salmonella and found compliant with EU legislation.

A new audit will be carried out by the end of 2017 to assess effectiveness.

Countries stepped up scrutiny of meat imports after an investigation uncovered a bribe payment scheme involving businesses and government inspectors who issued health certificates for food unsuitable to eat earlier this year.

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) said it was ‘concerned’ that sanctions by the European Union have not matched the scale of shortcomings highlighted by allegations made during the scandal.

Barclay Bell, UFU president, said: “It is wrong that the European Commission is pressing ahead with attempts to secure a free trade deal with the Mercosur countries of South America, when there is such a big question mark over the fitness of one of the key players to export food.

“We know Commission veterinary officials have visited Brazil, and the Commission is suggesting the problems found can be resolved. We would like to see their report in full, so that we can decide whether this is an effective approach. If the Commission will not make that report public, I would urge MEPs to press for its release.”

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