Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard issued the following statement following Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s announcement that he is halting imports of fresh Brazilian beef.
“We applaud Secretary Perdue’s decision to halt imports of fresh Brazilian beef but we question why the Secretary did not also halt imports of pre-cooked beef from Brazil after finding that Brazil’s food safety system is inadequate to meet U.S. food safety standards.
“Reports earlier this week from Brazil reveal that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued an alert regarding “irregularities” in several Brazilian meatpacking plants, including a plant owned by JBS. As a result, imports from five plants were immediately suspended. Alarmingly, the irregularities that USDA identified were purportedly reactions to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) vaccines.
“In other words, it appears the reason that only fresh beef from Brazil is being halted while genuine concerns remain for the safety of all Brazilian beef exports is because FMD mitigation measures may have been breached in Brazil.
“We are dismayed that it has taken longer than three months for the USDA to take steps to protect the safety of our food supply and the safety of our livestock herds. This inexplicable delay highlights the absolute need for mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL).
“If mandatory COOL had been in place, then consumers could have chosen to immediately avoid beef products from Brazil back in March when it was first discovered that Brazil’s meatpackers were unlawfully exporting tainted beef.
“We urge Secretary Purdue to halt all meat imports from Brazil until he conducts a thorough investigation of Brazil’s meatpacking plants and concludes that every one of those plants is fully complying with U.S. food safety laws and until mandatory COOL is fully implemented in the U.S. so consumers do not have to wait for the government to act before taking steps to ensure the safety of their food.”
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.