The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries has imposed an immediate import ban on corned beef from Brazil.
The ministry said in a release yesterday that the move follows reports from Brazilian authorities that several major Brazilian meat processors have been “selling rotten beef and poultry”. The companies are also alleged to have paid hefty bribes to auditors in exchange for fraudulent sanitary licences.
The ministry said the companies implicated by the Brazilian authorities supply 99.5 per cent of the corned beef on the local market.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda called an emergency meeting with officials from the Ministry of Health, the Consumer Affairs Commission, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the National Compliance Regulatory Authority, and the Jamaica Customs Agency at the ministry’s Hope Gardens offices yesterday afternoon and stressed the importance of safeguarding the welfare of consumers.
The release said the ministry also convened a meeting with major distributors and importers of corned beef. Besides the temporary ban, the ministry said the following steps are also to be taken immediately:
• A temporary hold will be placed on all permits for the import of corned beef from Brazil;
• As a precautionary measure, all corned beef currently on the shelves will be withdrawn; and
• The National Food Recall Committee will meet immediately to determine next steps and inform when it will be safe to consume the product.
In the interim, the ministry said the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will conduct chemical test profiles to ascertain the contents of corned beef on the market, and the ministry’s Veterinary Services Division will conduct microbiological and residue tests to ascertain whether contaminants are present in the products on the local market.
The ministry also cautioned consumers not to consume corned beef until further notice.
Jamaica’s ban came as the scandal over alleged bribery by meat packers to allow the sale of expired meat in Brazil deepened, with the European Union, China and Chile deciding to halt some meat imports from Latin America’s largest nation yesterday.
The developments represent a major blow to Brazil, one of the world’s largest exporters of meat, which is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in decades.
The announcements came despite a flurry of meetings that Brazilian President Michel Temer held with ambassadors and numerous assurances from the Government that Brazilian meats, in general, are safe.