Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has suspended all fresh beef imports from Brazil because of recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market. The suspension will remain in place until the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture takes corrective action that the USDA finds satisfactory.
“Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions, and it’s one we undertake with great seriousness," Perdue said. "Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef. I commend the work of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service for painstakingly safeguarding the food we serve our families.”
Since March, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been inspecting 100% of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil. FSIS has refused entry to 11% of Brazilian fresh beef products. That figure is substantially higher than the rejection rate of 1% of shipments from the rest of the world. Since implementation of the increased inspection, FSIS has refused entry to 106 lots (approximately 1.9 million pounds) of Brazilian beef products due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues. It is important to note that none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.
The Brazilian government had pledged to address those concerns, including by self-suspending five facilities from shipping beef to the United States. USDA's suspension of all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association supports the suspension.
“This action is the result of USDA’s strong, science-based testing protocol of imported beef and this proves that our food safety system works effectively," said NCBA president Craig Uden. "NCBA supports USDA’s commitment to science-based trade and its commitment to keeping our food supply as safe as possible.”