The USDA announced this week that they have instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil after a scandal erupted in that country.
It is alleged that beef company officials paid bribes to Brazilian government inspectors to ignore adulterated meat that was put into commerce. Company officials are accused of influencing the government to assign these inspectors to their plants. Health certificates were also allegedly falsified. Brazil is one of the countries that has inspection equivalency from the USDA, which means the U.S. considers their beef inspection programs equivalent to ours.
The press release states that “none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal have shipped meat products to the United States.” The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is also increasing its examination of all Brazilian beef imports at ports-of-entry across the country. This 100% re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil will be maintained indefinitely.
Mike Young, Acting Deputy Secretary of the USDA said in a statement, “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government’s investigation closely.” And Al Almanza, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety said, “it is our mission to keep the food on American dinner tables safe.”
The FSIS import inspection system, which includes equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes, is supposed to ensure that imported meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to ensure that these products are safe before they enter the country.
Although none of the establishments implicated in the Brazil scandal have shipped meat to the U.S., the point-of-entry re-inspection of all Brazilian beef includes 100% testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). In addition, there will be 100% testing of ready-to-eat products from Brazil for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.