Statement of Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter
Washington, D.C.—“Three months after allegations surfaced that Brazilian meat exporters bribed inspectors to approve tainted beef for sale and export, USDA is finally halting meat shipments from Brazil. The question is, why did it take so long?
“Brazil has a checkered history when it comes to food safety, and the latest revelations of corruption—bribery, using chemicals to cover up rotten meat, sending salmonella-contaminated meat to Europe and falsifying health certificates—raise questions about its meat exports and its equivalency system.
“What has happened recently in Brazil is not new. In 2005, USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) conduced five equivalency audits in Brazil. One of these audits revealed that FSIS inspectors were not paid by the federal government and were receiving subsidized meals and transit from the companies they were inspecting. Their medical bills were also covered by the same companies. This revelation lead to the temporary suspension of meat exports to the U.S. Subsequent problems included the discovery of drug traces on Brazilian meat, as well as an outbreak of BSE.
“Last week, food safety officials in the European Union reported finding serious problems with Brazil’s meat exports. Shipments stopped at the border tested positive for salmonella, drug residues, E.coli and other serious problems.
“We praise Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) for stepping up to protect American consumers and ranchers by pressuring the USDA to suspend meat shipments from Brazil, and we’re pleased to see the agency finally take action, but it’s not enough. We also call on the Trump administration to revoke Brazil’s equivalency status until it can clean up its act.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected]