IFA calls for immediate ban on Brazilian meat imports
Meat processors in Brazil accused of bribing health inspectors to get certificates
Beef in a Rio supermarket: Brazil has said scandal does not mean exported products were unsafe for human consumption. Photograph: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images
The Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has called for an immediate ban on Brazilian meat imports following reports that the South American country may have been exporting contaminated meat products to Europe for several years.
Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of red meat, has sought to reassure trading partners that the corruption scandal engulfing its meat industry does not mean that exported products were unsafe for human consumption.
This comes amid allegations that several top Brazilian meat processors bribed health inspectors and politicians to get government certificates for their products.
IFA president Joe Healy said the latest shocking revelations on the failure of Brazil to meet EU standards and controls in the meat sector raises very serious concerns around EU meat imports. He said the reports from Brazil would indicate that basic requirements around traceability and food safety were still not being met in Brazil.
Mr Healy also confirmed that he had written to EU commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis demanding that the EU insist on European standards for all imports and to impose a ban where this was not met.
“In the IFA policy document on Brexit, we have set out very clearly the need for equivalent standards on food safety, animal health, welfare and the environment and the need for the application of the common external tariff for imports to both the EU and UK,” Mr Healy said.
His calls for a ban were echoed by John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), who said the revelations should prompt an immediate ban on Brazilian beef and poultry imports into the EU until some degree of trust and confidence can be restored.
“We have to consider the scale of this alleged fraud and the reported extent of official involvement because it appears very considerable indeed; that has to mean a systemic problem which can only be countered by a systemic and independent investigation and verification of the produce that the Brazilians have been exporting,” he said.
Last year, the European Commission bowed to pressure from Ireland and other member states and removed beef from its proposed trade deal with South America.
The proposed trade deal between Europe and Mercosur, the trading bloc which includes Brazil and Argentina, had been expected to include a more preferential tariff regime for beef imports from Mercosur countries.
However, European farmers fear they will be unable to compete with cheaper beef imports from South America, where the cost of production is significantly lower than in Europe.