The total value of Brazilian meat exports the EU in 2017 was $1.76bn, according to official Brazilian government data.
The EU had already suspended imports from four Brazilian meat-processing facilities earlier this week, rejecting the European veterinary certificate for meat imports from the four plants involved in an investigation probing claims rotten products were sold.
Copa and Cogeca sent a letter to EU Commission today calling for stronger action, saying other countries have already imposed bans.
China has suspended imports of Brazilian meat as a precautionary measure, and eight other countries have stopped imports from the facilities spotlighted in the probe.
Copa and Cogeca secretary-general, Pekka Pesonen, noted that this is not the first time that the Brazilian authorities are facing fraud:
“Unfortunately, we have not seen sufficient corrective measures put in place. Effective action must be taken to prevent it from happening again.
“We need to recognize that the missions carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) and the controls undertaken at EU borders have been unable to detect the weaknesses in the Brazilian food safety system which have apparently being going on for more than ten years.”
Roadmap for the future
The EU farmer representatives also urged the Commission to monitor the steps taken by the Brazilian authorities to ensure that no other production sites have the same problem, and to draw up a road map for addressing such fraud in the future.
EU experts are meeting today in Brussels to decide on possible further measures.
A spokesperson for DG Santé told us the EU chief veterinary officers (CVOs) are discussing the latest developments and the effectiveness of the increased level of controls put in place.
The issue is also set to be discussed at the Agricultural Council on 3 April next, she said.
Copa and Cogeca said Brazil’s failure to apply and monitor EU-equivalent food safety standards for meat also raises serious concerns about the ongoing trade talks between the EU and Latin American trade bloc.
The EU Commission and the countries involved in the Mercosur trade alliance, whose members account for over half of Latin America's GDP, have been meeting this week in Argentina.
“In beef, we reiterate our calls to implement the full individual traceability scheme for cattle throughout their lifetime. We believe that this scheme is a prerequisite for the next stages of the Mercosur trade negotiations,” said Pesonen.