UK – Food safety authorities have braced inspections on Brazillian meat imports and reinstated the establishment approval system following an audit of Brazil’s sanitary and phytosanitary controls by the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Being the first British audit mission abroad, the audit focused on the Brazillian system of inspection of products of animal origin, focusing on poultry and beef.
The audit team visited various authorities, food businesses, farms and laboratories to assess the enhanced salmonella checks for exports of poultry meat and poultry and beef meat products and preparations.
According to an industrial report, Brazil has made significant progress in correcting the systemic failings that led to the UK’s imposition of enhanced salmonella controls in 2020.
The report noted that Brazil has changed its legislation and restructured its competent authorities to strengthen the regulatory oversight of exports and to clarify accountabilities.
The decision of the British authorities confirmed the adequacy of the official sanitary and Phytosanitary controls in Brazil and found an improvement in the results of salmonella testing of consignments since the start of the reinforced checks.
In addition, the report also made some recommendations to Brazil to further improve its food safety controls, such as contingency planning, delisting establishments, official controls, salmonella controls and laboratory testing.
It acknowledged that Brazil had resolved the issues related to its sanitary and phytosanitary regulatory system, which led to the establishment of enhanced controls.
In addition, the regulators announced that they will impose regional import restrictions when cases of bird flu are identified and that if some chickens get sick in a specific region of Brazil, the UK will only stop buying chickens from that area, not from the whole country.
According to ABPA, Brazil is the main exporter and second-largest poultry producer in the world, second only to the United States, which, should end 2022 at 20.875 million tonnes, up 2.2% compared to 2021.
In 2022, Brazil exported US$282.2 million in poultry and approximately US$134.5 million in beef to the UK. Since Brexit, Brazilian agricultural exports to the UK increased by 67%, reaching US$1.8 billion in 2022.
However, the sector has faced major challenges against forecasted growth main one being the avian influenza outbreak which advanced over many countries in South America, namely Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and Chile.
The control changes come a couple of weeks after experts warned that avian influenza could adapt to become more transmissible among humans. Given the unprecedented spread of the disease since December 2021, world health authorities are aligning to tackle the issue head-on.
The World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) are also urging countries to take severe actions to curb the spread.