Brazil has again gone to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in a dispute with the European Union about controls of Salmonella in poultry meat.

The South American country has requested dispute consultations with the EU about measures on the import of salted poultry meat and turkey meat with pepper.

Brazil claims the EU’s approach to Salmonella food safety criteria on fresh poultry meat and some poultry meat preparations intended to be eaten cooked are inconsistent with WTO’s agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which creates “unjustified barriers” to trade.

The request for consultations is the first formal dispute step in the WTO process. It gives those involved an opportunity to discuss the matter and find a solution without litigation. After 60 days, if consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, Brazil may request a verdict by a panel.

Brazil has already raised a specific trade concern (STC) about the EU’s Salmonella food safety rules for fresh and poultry meat preparations on four occasions since 2017.

In the EU, fresh poultry meat cannot be placed on the market if Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium are detected. Rules on poultry meat preparations require the absence of all serotypes of Salmonella in a 25 gram sample.

Brazilian officials said there is no technical or scientific evidence to justify the stricter microbiological criteria for Salmonella in salted chicken meat and turkey with pepper compared to unprepared fresh poultry.

They added the different Salmonella rules between these two product categories has adversely affected Brazilian exports of poultry meat preparations to the EU.

Seven new trade concerns
Meanwhile, the WTO Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures also met earlier this month.

Members addressed 44 specific trade concerns, seven of which were raised for the first time. Discussions covered restrictions and approval procedures for imports of animal and plant products, pesticide policies and MRLs.

Most new sanitary and phytosanitary issues related to undue delays in approval procedures. This included EU delays in authorizing imports of Samgyetang — Korean ginseng chicken soup — from Korea and China’s import restrictions on fishery products, which was raised by Mexico.

Among the previously raised issues, many were about food safety. These include the EU regulatory approach to maximum levels for contaminants that was flagged earlier this year by Canada with support from the United States. Canada’s concern covered cadmium in cereals and pulses and oilseeds, ergot and ergot alkaloids in cereals, and hydrocyanic acid in linseed (flax).

Also, a sanitary and phytosanitary issue was raised in 2020 and discussed again throughout 2021 by Australia, China, Russia and Chinese Taipei with support from Japan, New Zealand, Philippines and the United States on new EU rules on composite products. Composite products contain both items of plant origin and processed products of animal origin.

Japan gave an update on the food safety situation following the Fukushima nuclear power station accident 10 years ago. The United States presented results of its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traceability challenge. The EU reported on increased official controls and emergency measures to let in certain food and feed of non-animal origin from some importing countries.

The next meeting of the committee is set for March 23 to 25, 2022. Members also agreed to hold a session in March on trade approaches to pesticide maximum residue levels, including substances not approved for use in an import market. In June, a meeting is scheduled on the use of virtual audits and verification systems in regulatory frameworks. In November, another session is scheduled to look at international standards and best practices in pest risk identification, assessment and management.

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