By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The government of Brazil says it is working towards finding out what is causing irregularities in the quality of meat exported to the U.S. after, the North American country announced it was suspending all imports of fresh beef coming from Brazil.
For Agriculture Defense Director, Luis Eduardo Rangel the irregularities do not constitute a health problem since it does not cause health risks to humans or animals, but is rather a quality issue. According to Rangel the reaction by the United States government was a bit exaggerated.
“We understand the concerns by the U.S. over these issues but the diagnosis of the Ministry of Agriculture is that the cause (for the irregularities) is a reaction caused by the reaction to the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine,” said Rangel during a morning radio interview on Friday.
During the interview Rangel hinted that there might also be political-economic elements to the U.S. decision. According to the official, while Asian importers of Brazilian beef remain stable, beef importers from the U.S. and Europe tend to also take into consideration political and economic factors when it comes to importing Brazilian beef.
Since March the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service has refused entry to eleven percent of Brazilian fresh meat products, which according to the government entity is ‘substantially higher than the one percent reject rate for remittances from the rest of the world’.
“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,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in a press statement released on Thursday, June 22nd.
Foreseeing problems, Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) announced on Wednesday (June 21st), they were suspending beef exports by five meatpackers to the United States after U.S. health officials identified irregularities in the products. According to MAPA the irregularities were caused by the reaction to the vaccines used by the companies.
Brazil’s Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi stated in a message posted on social media that he will travel with a ministry team to the U.S. in the next few days to conduct the ‘necessary discussions and restore this important market that Brazil has achieved in recent years’.