Brazil has made major progress in improving controls on poultry meat sent to Europe, according to findings from a recent audit report.

The audit, carried out by DG Sante in October and November 2023, found significant improvements that largely addressed the recommendations suggested after previous visits.

Audits in Brazil on poultry meat and public health took place in 2017 and 2018, prompted by results of the Carne Fraca police operation, which highlighted fraud and corruption in 21 beef and poultry processing plants in the country.

They identified serious deficiencies that led the EU Commission to impose measures including de-listing certain plants and suspending Brazil’s pre-listing of meat establishments. Also, 100 percent pre-export microbiological checks were required for all poultry meat product consignments sent to the EU.

There is an ongoing dispute case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) between Brazil and the EU related to certain poultry meat preparations and Salmonella.

Findings prompt changes
In 2021, 487,000 tons of poultry meat were exported to the EU and 371,000 tons of poultry meat preparations. This fell to 153,500 tons and 155,000 tons, respectively, in 2022.

UK authorities lifted enhanced import controls on beef and poultry and restrictions on Brazil listing poultry and beef establishments for export to Great Britain in 2023 following findings from an audit by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

After the last DG Sante audit, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAPA) introduced major changes in the structure and operation of agencies relevant to the audit scope. This involved the Department of Inspection of Products of Animal Origin (DIPOA), the Inspection Services of Animal Products (SIPOAs), and the Brazilian Federal Inspection Services (SIFs).

Auditors said the changes can guarantee that a sufficient number of official staff are deployed to EU-approved slaughterhouses.

The audit team found that 10 of the 11 establishments visited were broadly in line with EU requirements. A few non-conformities were noted, such as a lack of handwashing basins in cutting rooms and installations that do not prevent contact between meat and different surfaces. Some deficiencies had been detected by either a DIPOA audit or SIF inspection but had not yet been corrected.

Areas to improve
One site had long-standing maintenance issues not previously identified by SIF or DIPOA. An action plan was developed under the company’s initiative to solve the issues. Auditors were later told the plant’s EU export certification had been suspended until non-conformities were corrected.

Auditors found some problems around post-mortem inspection, official controls on cutting and deboning poultry carcasses, and stunning equipment at slaughterhouses. Four recommendations were made. Brazilian authorities said training will be organized and documents updated to address these issues.

At the establishments visited, businesses shared data of Salmonella prevalence on their farms that varied from 0.4 to 40 percent.

In 2021, almost 3,000 official samples of fresh poultry meat and products were taken at slaughterhouses. Salmonella was detected in 13.85 percent of samples. In 2022, more than 3,000 samples were taken and 13.87 percent were positive for Salmonella.

A decrease in RASFF notifications due to microbial contamination was noted, from 318 cases in 2017 and 59 in 2018 to 15 in 2022 and 17 in 2023. If a shipment is rejected due to Salmonella, the export certification of the plant is suspended until the investigations and corrective measures demonstrate control of Salmonella in poultry farms and slaughterhouses.

In response to the recommendations of previous audits, new procedures for dealing with consignments rejected at EU borders to avoid the products being re-exported to Europe are in place. The audit team found that they were properly implemented.

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