Food & Water Watch, a Washington, DC-based consumer group, yesterday called on the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate imported beef products from Brazil that could be adulterated with residues of the veterinary drug Ivermectin.
In a letter to the Inspector General, the group detailed the discovery of residue contamination problems in processed beef products from Brazil, problems which caused the USDA suspend processed beef imports from Brazil entirely. According to Food & Water Watch, the agency has failed to call for a recall of the products that entered the United States before the imports were halted. They believe the potentially contaminated meat made it into canned meat products, which are likely still on shelves.
“We believe the current situation continues to show a very confusing agency policy on recalls associated with excessive residue levels in products it regulates,” wrote Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch.
This specific case comes just months after an investigation by the agency’s Inspector General revealed severe flaws in the agency’s program in the federal food safety system meant to keep chemical or drug residues out of meat products.
The report found that the agency failed to establish residue limits and stated that the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service does not attempt to recall meat, even when its tests have confirmed the “excessive presence of veterinary drugs.”
Food & Water watch said they recently asked the USDA why they have not asked for voluntary recalls of potentially Ivermectin-tainted meat products, and the agency responded by saying the products in question posed a low public health risk.
In a statement released yesterday, Food and Water Watch pointed to the recent Inspector General report, which cites neurotoxicity as a potential health effect from Ivermectin exposure.
“The inaction by FSIS in this matter is totally astounding,” wrote Hauter. “[W]e dispute the contention that excessive Ivermectin residues are not a major public health risk.”
“Currently, the U.S. is in a very delicate trade situation with Brazil as the government tries to avoid the imposition of retaliatory tariffs emanating from the cotton subsidy case Brazil won against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization,” said the organization in a statement yesterday. “We sincerely hope that sacrificing the wellbeing of U.S. consumers in not being used as a bargaining chip in that trade dispute,” said Hauter.