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USDA beefs up scrutiny of Brazilian beef amid bribery scandal

brazilfederalpolice_406x250None of the slaughter or processing facilities targeted by the Federal Police in Brazil have shipped meat products to the United States, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Nevertheless, FSIS immediately instituted additional pathogen testing of all shipments of raw and ready-to-eat beef products from Brazil once it heard a scandal was brewing. It has also increased its examination of all these products at U.S. ports-of-entry. The agency will indefinitely maintain its 100 percent re-inspection and pathogen testing of all lots of FSIS-regulated products imported from Brazil.

USDA’s announcement Tuesday came in response corruption in Brazil’s meat industry that saw widespread pocketing of bribes by meat inspectors in exchange for quick approvals. World reaction has been unforgiven, all but drying up Brazil’s meat export business.

“Keeping food safe for American families is our top priority,” said Mike Young, acting deputy secretary of the USDA. “FSIS has strengthened the existing safeguards that protect the American food supply as a precaution and is monitoring the Brazilian government’s investigation closely.”

The FSIS import inspection system includes equivalence determinations, in-country audits, and re-inspection processes. It is designed to ensure that imported meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe and wholesome. FSIS works closely 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.

“FSIS will take any additional actions necessary to protect public health,” said Al Almanza, acting deputy under secretary for food safety. “It is our mission to keep the food on American dinner tables safe.”

Although none of the establishments implicated in the Brazil scandal have shipped meat products to the United States, effective March 18, FSIS instituted 100 percent point-of-entry re-inspection of all Brazilian beef imported into the United States, including conducting product examination on 100 percent of the lots.

This re-inspection includes 100 percent testing of beef trimmings from Brazil for Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and non-O157 shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC). The 100 percent re-inspection also includes 100 percent testing of ready-to-eat products from Brazil for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes. FSIS will take immediate action to refuse entry of product into the United States if there are findings of food safety concern.

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