IFA President Joe Healy said the latest EU FVO (Food and Veterinary Office) report covering the "Weak Flesh" meat scandal and corruption in Brazil confirms that the Brazilian authorities seriously misled the EU Commission, and cannot guarantee European consumers that meat products exported to the EU have been produced in accordance with EU requirements.
Mr Healy said this latest EU report completely undermines any credibility to the arguments being made in the Mercosur trade negotiations that Brazil will ever meet EU production standards on beef and other meat imports. The IFA President said the findings from this EU report back up previous IFA calls for a ban on Brazil meat imports following the Weak Flesh scandal.
The report states that "the Brazilian Competent Authority is not in a position to guarantee that the relevant export requirements are met." In addition the reports states "the Competent Authorities are signing export reports certificates despite being unable to ascertain the veracity of certain statements therein."
IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods said the report highlights that commitments and guarantees given by the authorities in Brazil are considered as "not reliable" by the FVO. The report concludes that the Brazilians had not addressed previous issues the EU had uncovered in audits carried out in Brazil, despite the fact that the Brazilian authorities had provided "written guarantees" to the Commission that they had implemented all of the recommendations.
The EU report highlights that the "Competent authority has not ensured that appropriate official staff resources are available at establishments approved for EU exports and therefore cannot guarantee that products exported to the EU have been produced in accordance with EU requirements."
The EU report concludes that the Competent Authorities’ systems in Brazil are not always properly implemented and therefore are not effective in detecting and acting on significant non-compliance. The report also highlights "evidence gathered during the audit demonstrates that the system does not offer sufficient guarantees concerning" avoiding conflict of interest of officials performing controls.
In respect of factories or establishments listed for export to the EU, Mr Woods said the report states "the system does not guarantee that the list of establishments approved for EU export and communicated to the Commission is accurate and kept up to date."
The report highlighted that the EU audit team found that a veterinarian employed and paid by the company formed part of the Federal Inspection Service team on a permanent basis. In addition no procedures were followed to avoid any potential problems of conflict of interest. The report highlights that the slaughter house involved was one biggest exporters worldwide of meat to the EU in 2016.
On the lack of traceability and the separation of EU and non EU eligible animals and products, the EU audit report stated the segregation of the production of raw material to be used for the production of EU eligible meat products was not ensured.
The EU eligibility of the meat and mechanically separated meat used was not always verified. The exclusion of ineligible types of meat (kidneys and trimming of the sticking point) was not ensured. Mistakes on EU eligibility in the national sanitary certificates were made.
In relation to certification, the EU FVO report states that the shortcomings observed in their implementation results in a situation where the Competent Authority was signing certificates containing statements it was not in a position to verify or which were not true.
In addition, the FVO audit report states, "The Competent Authority cannot provide guarantees that rejected consignments will not be re-dispatched to the EU. Moreover the system does not guarantee that products that are part of the same batch rejected will not be exported to the EU."
Mr Woods said this latest EU report highlights a litany of failures by Brazil on EU standards and is another serious wake up call for the EU Commission. He said the credibility of the EU Commission involved in ignoring the findings of the Food and Veterinary Office and proceeding to allow sub-standard Brazilian beef and other meat imports in to the EU is seriously at risk.
The IFA yesterday (Wednesday, 4 October) held a protest outside the EU Commission offices in Dublin over the EU Commission’s proposal to offer Brazil and other South American countries further access to the EU market for beef and poultry as part of the Mercosur trade negotiations.