Statement by the Hon. Karl Samuda, CD, MP Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries
Government Lifts Temporary Ban on Corned Beef from Brazil
April 4, 2017
2nd Floor Conference Room, MICAF Hope Gardens
Ladies and gentlemen,
On the 21st of March the Government of Jamaica placed a temporary ban on the importation of canned corned beef originating from Brazil.
This action was prompted by reports from Brazilian authorities that several major Brazilian meat processors had been selling tainted beef and poultry meat. The companies were also alleged to have paid hefty bribes to auditors in exchange for fraudulent sanitary licences.
Our decision to impose the temporary ban proved to be consistent with the subsequent action of several other countries.
We took all pains at that time to explain to the nation that this was a precautionary measure based on the fact that corned beef is widely consumed in Jamaica and 99.5% of the product used locally is imported from Brazil.
We also indicated, at the time, that the Bureau of Standards Jamaica would conduct chemical test profiles to ascertain the contents of corned beef on the market and the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry would conduct microbiological and residue tests to ascertain whether contaminants were present in the products on the local market.
In addition, a technical team was to visit Brazil to assess the situation first hand and to determine whether the source of the corned beef exported to Jamaica was wholesome.
Consumers were also cautioned not to consume corned beef until further notice and until we could make a definitive statement on the situation.
We gave a two week deadline then and we are, therefore, very happy today, exactly two weeks later, to report to the nation on our findings.
First of all, based on our tests conducted locally, no adverse findings have been found.
Secondly, we can report that an audit was conducted in Brazil from March 29, 2017 to April 2, 2017 as part of a fact-finding inspection visit by a team from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health.
The objectives of the inspection were targeted at evaluating the official controls implemented in the production of canned corned beef destined for export to Jamaica, in addition to verifying the certification procedures with regard to such products destined for the Jamaican market. The objectives, in particular, were to:
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
As a result of the inspection, assessment and meetings held during the visit, the inspection team is satisfied that the production of canned corned beef at the relevant plants (No. 337 and No. 226) is done with a high level of sanitation and hygiene practices and meets the minimum international standards in accordance with Codex Alimentarius and other established guidelines.
The inspection team was able to verify that the Brazilian authorities have demonstrated the implementation of effective control systems and measures for the production of canned corned beef for export to Jamaica. The authorities have further provided satisfactory assurances regarding compliance with best practices, including HACCP implementation at the processing establishments visited.
The two establishments visited had effective control and traceability systems in place throughout the entire chain and the team was able to verify that only raw material meeting food safety criteria was used for the production of canned corned beef for export to Jamaica. The official controls implemented at the level of the two establishments by the Federal Inspection Agency were satisfactory.
The results of extensive analyses conducted on samples of canned corned beef taken from batches of the product previously imported into Jamaica have been satisfactory.
With these findings, the public can be assured that the products are safe for consumption.
In summary, we have been able to establish that the sources of Brazilian corned beef imported into Jamaica were not compromised and so we are now in a position to resume importation of corned beef from Brazil.
The ban on canned corned beef imported into Jamaica from Brazil is now officially lifted.
All corned beef en route to the island will be cleared and all stocks now being held in quarantine will be released for distribution and consumption. However, given the issues which continue to surround the beef industry in Brazil we will continue to monitor the situation at all levels.
Ladies and gentlemen, this matter has generated a great amount of interest and anxiety among consumers and other stakeholders, but the Government had a responsibility to act decisively and to take all precautions to safeguard public health.