EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis confirmed a complete ban on horsemeat exports from all Brazilian slaughterhouses and horse exporting companies currently eligible for export to the EU and a requirement of 100% systematic pre-export microbiological checks on all poultry meat, meat products and preparations at last week’s Farm Council in Luxembourg (June 12th).
During his address to Ministers, the Health chief pointed to a range of ‘critical deficiencies’ identified at Brazilian horse and poultry meat establishments by a team of EU health inspectors during an audit in May (2nd to 12th). The inspectors visited beef processing plants, as well as slaughter facilities for poultry and horsemeat in the Brazilian states that were implicated in the recent police corruption inquiry (Paraná, Goiás, Santa Catarina, São Paulo and Mato Grosso).
Some 4,416 consignments of Brazilian meat imports have already been checked before entering the EU (until the end of May) including 1,105 laboratory controls. Of these, 108 consignments were rejected, 77 of these due to the presence of salmonella on poultry meat, four due to the presence of STEC (Shiga toxin-producing E.Coli) on beef and 25 for ‘other reasons’ (incorrect certification, cold chain problems, etc.)
Speaking to reporters, the Health chief insisted the EU’s executive would remain ‘very tough on this matter’ and confirmed there would be a follow-up audit ‘by the end of 2017.’ He added: ‘Should the Brazilian authorities refuse to implement the requested measures in their entirety, or fail as regards their implementation, the Commission will propose further appropriate action.’
He reiterated that the protection of the health of EU consumers was his ‘first priority and the determining factor in any decision against imports from Brazil’ and called on the authorities to implement ‘immediate and robust actions’ – a point backed by Irish Minister Michael Creed at the Council meeting.