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US suspends Brazilian beef imports amid health concerns

The US has banned all imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market. 

The suspension of shipments will remain in place until the Brazilian government takes action which the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) finds satisfactory.

In March several countries including China, Egypt and Chile banned imports of meat from Brazil as officials in the country were accused of accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking unsanitary factory conditions and potentially contaminated meat.

Since then, the USDA has been inspecting all meat products arriving from Brazil, refusing entry to 11% fresh beef products.  The rejection rate from the rest of the world is 1%.

Since the increased inspection started, the USDA has refused entry to approximately 1.9 million pounds of Brazilian beef due to public health concerns, sanitary conditions, and animal health issues.

US agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue said: “Although international trade is an important part of what we do at USDA, and Brazil has long been one of our partners, my first priority is to protect American consumers. That’s what we’ve done by halting the import of Brazilian fresh beef.”

The Brazilian government has pledged to address concerns. On Wednesday it suspended five facilities from shipping beef to the US. 

Bloomberg reported that Marfrig Global Foods, Brazil’s second biggest meat company, is taking all necessary measures to meet the requirements.

US National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson praised the decision to ban imports, stating: “We’ve long had concerns about the importation of fresh beef from Brazil.”

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