Washington, DC – Yesterday, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) posted the most recent audit report on Brazil’s beleaguered meat inspection system, conducted between May 15 and June 2, 2017. It was conducted after Brazilian legal authorities exposed major corruption in its meat inspection system, but before the USDA halted fresh beef imports from Brazil.
“Why are we still recognizing Brazil as having an equivalent food safety system when over the past decade USDA auditors find the same problems over and over again?” asked Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “Why are we wasting taxpayers’ dollars to prop up a country that continues to prove that it cannot administer a modern food safety inspection program that is also free from corruption?”
The new FSIS audit found many deficiencies in the Brazilian meat inspection system. These issues have been recurring problems with the Brazilian meat inspection system. Many of the same deficiencies were found in an audit between March 10 and April 14, 2005, which eventually led to the suspension of meat imports from Brazil:
- The Brazilian food safety agency (the Department of Inspection for Products of Animal Origin – DIPOA) had not developed policies and procedures to identify areas where conflicts of interest could arise between inspection personnel and the regulated establishments where they work. The 2005 audit raised concerns about conflicts of interest because many of the government inspectors received free meals, transportation, subsidized housing and medical care paid for by the meat plants they inspected;
- The implemented post-mortem inspection procedures were inadequate to ensure that only wholesome carcasses free of contamination and defects received the mark of inspection;
- Inspection personnel did not adequately enforce sanitation regulatory requirements to prevent the creation of unsanitary conditions and direct product contamination;
- The DIPOA did not verify that in-plant inspectors performed their assigned duties in a manner that was consistent with the issued instructions. The 2005 audit found inadequate supervision of government inspectors;
- The DIPOA had not developed procedures to standardize the assessment of competence and performance of in-plant inspection personnel assigned to United States-certified establishments. The 2005 audit found that government inspectors were not adequately trained;
- Inspection personnel did not accurately assess the design and implementation of the establishments’ Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems, and did not conduct adequate verification sampling of products. The 2005 audit found that most of the meat plants audited had inadequate HAACP and sanitation programs;
- The official methods of chemical analysis used by the government laboratories was inconsistent with FSIS requirements. The 2005 audit found that laboratory testing procedures for microbiological contaminants were inconsistent with those used in the United States;
- The DIPOA had not instructed establishments and in-plant inspectors to hold livestock carcasses selected for residue sampling until acceptable results were received. The 2005 audit found that residue testing was inconsistent with U.S. protocols; and
- Brazilian products re-inspected at United States points-of-entry demonstrate a trend of an unusually high number of violations.
“The USDA should stop playing Russian roulette with our health,” said Hauter. “The time has come to stop all meat imports from Brazil and eliminate it as a country eligible to export its meat products to the U.S.”
Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
Contact: Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]