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The U.S Department of Agriculture is reported to have banned imports of fresh Brazilian meat and indicates a "system-wide problem”. Brazil’s beef shipments to the U.S. represent 1% of its total exports.
Allegedly, the USDA detected violations such as abscesses, unidentified foreign material and "ingesta", which can include any food, drink or medicine that cattle consume.
If Brazil’s beef exports to the U.S. do not represent a major financial earning, its image and reputation are being damaged, according to Antonio Camardelli, Head of Abiec, the Brazilian meat exporters association, pointing out the USDA approval to import Brazilian fresh beef was granted in 2016 after a long period of negotiations. Brazil expected the agreement to open the doors to other important markets such Japan and South Korea.
Speaking at a press conference, Eumar Novacki, Brazil’s Deputy Agriculture Minister said some cattle had adverse reactions to certain vaccines but that the problems listed by the USDA do not pose risk to public health.
Novacki recognised that there are flaws in Brazil's inspection system but suggested there could be "commercial motivations" behind the U.S. ban. While the USDA ban was announced on June 23, about 120 containers with around 3,000 tonnes of Brazilian meat are reported to be on their way to the U.S.
Since March 2017, the USDA is said to have rejected 11% of Brazilian fresh beef products, against the rejection rate of 1% for shipments from other countries. The EU said it had rejected some shipments of Brazilian beef due to the presence of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, and Canada has rejected six shipments of Brazilian beef out of 191 meat shipments since April 10, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
Meat processing companies Marfrig and Minerva are said to have had missing shipping marks and labelling problems on containers. Shares of JBS and Marfrig fell about 1% in Sao Paulo. Allegedly, Marfrig’s beef exports to the U.S. contributed less than 1% of its revenue this year, while Minerva, whose shares were up slightly, ships fresh beef to the U.S. from Uruguay so not much affected by ban. JBS has not made any comments to the press.