UK farmers fears over Brazilian beef standards

UK farming leaders have expressed concerns over Brazilian beef production, despite improvement highlighted by a recent EU Food & Veterinary Office (FVO) report. The news follows on the heels of Irish farmers once again calling for a ban on Brazilian beef.

The president of the Irish Farmers Association accused the South Americans of treating the EU Commission with contempt and said the Brazilian production flies in the face of EU standards.

While the UKs National Farmers Union comments are less inflammatory, it said it had serious concerns about the safety of Brazilian beef.

The FVO report saw inspectors visit a number of slaughterhouses, cold stores and farm holdings during January and February this year. They found the general controls for hygiene and traceability in slaughterhouses and cold stores to be satisfactory and noted improvements in the certification system since the last inspection.

However, NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said: I take little comfort from the findings of the FVO mission and I still have serious concerns about the safety of Brazilian beef. It is clear that there are still problems with animal identification and movement controls and I find it incredible that the European Commission does not take this issue more seriously.

The inspectors found instances where animals were not correctly accounted for, non-EU-approved animals were sent to EU-approved slaughterhouses and conflicts of interest existed among the official supervisors.

Even with these serious problems the report still declares that the procedures in place in Brazil are good enough to comply with the Commissions requirements for import to the EU.

Our cattle industry has faced ever-increasing levels of bureaucracy in relation to livestock and identification controls and food safety measures, which we have accepted and complied with in the interests of protecting the consumer and ensuring high animal health status. We want to produce safe, wholesome food and we want healthy animals.

However, if we are doing this, we expect imported products to meet the same standards and we need guarantees that the systems and controls in place will prevent devastating diseases like foot-and-mouth being imported into the EU.

The Commission must look again at its findings and halt the certification of Brazilian beef farms until the Brazilian authorities can provide convincing evidence that their farms can be relied on to meet EU standards.

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