FSIS Audit Finds Meat Inspections In Brazil Don't Meet US Standards

National Cattlemen's Beef Association is questioning why the audit report wasn't released until after the comment period on new U.S. import proposal for fresh-cut Brazilian beef expired.

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The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's proposed rule to allow the import of fresh and frozen beef from 14 states in Brazil took a little turn towards the controversial this week, when the National Cattlemen's Beef Association announced they finally had a chance to review the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service's final audit report on an onsite audit conducted on Brazil's meat inspection system.

The onsite audit, which was conducted from February 19 through March 14, 2013 and the report is dated April 16, 2014, found that Brazilian inspection systems do not measure up to inspection standards in the U.S.

"NCBA is extremely disappointed this final audit report was not released in time for a full review, prior to the comment deadline on the proposed rule," said Bob McCan, NCBA president.

"In early March, NCBA formally requested through a Freedom of Information Act request, all pertinent documents, including a final 2013 FSIS audit report for Brazil. This report was available prior to the comment deadline, but the failure by FSIS to provide it, shows a complete lack of preparation of the documents the U.S. cattle industry would need in order to make informed and meaningful comments," he said.

The FSIS audit was designed to determine the equivalence of Brazil's meat inspection system. All nations that import product into the U.S. must meet or exceed FSIS' domestic requirements prior to being approved for importation of fresh or processed meats. The audit focused on six main system components: government oversight, statutory authority and food-safety regulations, sanitation, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points systems, chemical residue control programs and microbiological testing programs.

"This audit report confirms many of the compliance concerns that NCBA recently expressed in our comments on behalf of our members," said Dr. Kathy Simmons, NCBA chief veterinarian. "Our members have significant concerns with Brazil's ability and willingness to meet established compliance requirements. Most alarming to me is the inconsistent application and implementation of Specified Risk Material requirements throughout the system and a history of unresolved drug residue violations."

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