The United Kingdom has returned multiple containers of chicken to Brazil during a period of more than a year because of Salmonella.

Tereza Cristina, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, confirmed the U.K. sent back 16 containers of chicken from Brazil within a 15-month interval. Another container, with about 1,400 tons, was returned for an issue relating to meat temperature, according to Brazilian media reports.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, U.K. newspaper The Guardian and news organization Repórter Brasil earlier reported thousands of tons of Salmonella-contaminated chicken were exported from Brazil in the past two years. Significant amounts were supplied by JBS and BRF or their subsidiaries.

They found the returned meat was consumed in Brazil as the European Union’s rules for controlling Salmonella are stricter than those in the South American country.

EU imports and rejections
Data from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) shows the Netherlands and U.K. issuing 16 border rejection alerts this year for Salmonella in frozen salted chicken half breasts from Brazil. The Salmonella strain is only mentioned in one alert as Schwarzengrund.

In February this year, BRF recalled more than 450 tons of fresh chicken in Brazil because of potential Salmonella contamination. Some of the meat was destined for international markets.

Brazil exported 312,000 tons of chicken meat in April which was 5,200 tons less than in March, according to Mintec data.

The European Union imported almost 110,000 tons of frozen, prepared and salted poultry meat from Brazil from January to April this year compared to more than 88,600 tons and 156,900 tons in the same period in 2018 and 2017 respectively. More than 500,000 tons were imported in the whole of 2015 and 2016 but Thailand has now become the biggest source of imported poultry meat into the EU.

In 2017, police in Brazil investigated the sector and found some health inspectors had been bribed so meat produced in unhygienic conditions could be sold.

The EU banned meat imports from 20 Brazilian poultry and beef plants in April 2018 after an audit of the beef, horse and poultry meat control system in the country. A follow-up audit found progress but some areas that still needed attention.

In July 2018, after the matter was raised for a second time at the World Trade Organization, EU officials said shipments from Brazil were subject to testing at 20 percent frequency at EU borders, in addition to pre-export checks carried out by Brazilian authorities. According to EU findings, prevalence of Salmonella in poultry meat detected at the EU border was close to 6 percent.

Raw milk warning
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply has warned consumers about potential health risks from drinking raw, unpasteurized milk.

The agency encouraged consumption of pasteurized dairy because it is a food group rich in nutrients but added that raw milk is ideal for development of bacteria and, when pathogenic, serious risk to public health.

Among diseases that can be transmitted by consumption of raw milk are tuberculosis, brucellosis, listeriosis, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and E. coli.

In Brazil, the sale of raw milk is prohibited throughout the country. During pasteurization, the milk is subject to a temperature of 72 degrees C to 75 degrees C (161 to 167 degrees F) for 15 to 20 seconds.

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