A petition calling upon the United States to ban Brazilian beef is looking for 100,000 signatures on the White House’s We the People website.
“This petition is important because American produced beef is not differentiated from Brazilian imported beef at supermarkets in the United States,” says the sponsor statement. “Brazil is under investigation for exporting shipments tainted with bacteria capable of affecting public health. We ask the Administration to ban unsafe imports from Brazil until all beef sold in the United States is labeled with its country of origin. This petition will benefit the largest segment of American agriculture – the U.S. cattle industry, as well as protect American consumers.”
Filed April 13 with the goal of collecting 100,000 in 30 days to get a response from the Trump White House, the backer of the petition is the Billings, MT-based Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund or R-CALF USA.
The petition on April 17 remained just short of 1,000 signatures. R-CALF is promoting the Brazilian beef ban on the web.
“Help us stop unsafe Brazilian beef imports until all beef sold in our nation’s supermarkets is required to labeled with its country of origin,” the promotional site says. “This is a food safety issue.”
The petition was filed in response to Brazil’s Federal Police investigation into a bribery scheme involving 21 meat processing plant that the public learned about on March 17. Known as “Operation Weak Flesh,” the criminal probe has captured 33 federal sanitary inspectors in its net with criminal charges filed against as many as 63 defendants.
R-CALF says the Federal Police investigation has found plants knowingly selling rotten meat to schools and the public, shipping it for other countries, and producing tests showing samples taken from the targeted plans with positives for Salmonella, Staph and Sorbic Acid. “The EU, Canada, Mexico and 12 other countries quickly banned Brazil’s unsafe imports,” R-CALF says. “The United States has not!”
Actually, the bribery scandal has only been a speed bump for Brazilian beef exports. Abiec, the country’s beef exporters association, reports beef exports from Brazil were up 22 percent in March over February, reaching $501 million. “Brazilian beef can be sold in supermarkets across the USA with no label to differentiate it from safer American beef,”R-CALF says on the petition website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said no meat from the plants targeted in Brazil’s investigation was shipped to the United States, but any future shipments would be subject to inspection until the scandal is resolved. Meanwhile, incoming Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said he does not favor bans or embargoes in such instances and thinks they would be counterproductive.
R-CALF says American ranchers produce the “safest, best in the world,” but are going out of business “at an alarming rate.”
“More than 200,000 of us have lost our family ranches since 1990 because of global ‘fat cat’ meatpackers lobby Congress to stop our American beef from being labeled,” the petition statement continues.
R-CALF supported country of origin labeling that said beef was “born, raised and slaughtered in the USA” but the COOL law, as it was known, was revoked for violating trade agreements.
The organization would like to see COOL reimposed, suggesting it could be re-instated by an executive order by President Trump.
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