After GraceKennedy announced it has suspended sales of corned beef originating from Brazil, Belize Agricultural Health Authority along with the Ministry of Health have come together and issued a press release stating their take of action towards this situation.
Release - The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the Ministry of Health met today, March 27, 2017 with all importers of Corned Beef to discuss the recent tainted Corned Beef issue in Brazil, and the adherence to measures that will be applied to ensure that Corned Beef in the Belizean market is safe for consumption.
According to a document from the delegation of Brazil in the WTO, document G/SPS/GEN/1545, “on 17 March 2017 the Brazilian Federal Police detected irregular practices involving certification of meat and meat products by staff members of the Ministry of Agriculture in 21 meat processing facilities that handled beef, poultry and poultry products”. As measures taken to curtail those irregular practices, Brazil informed that three of these facilities have had their operations halted and all 21 are being re-audited and have been suspended from exporting.
At the national level, actions to ascertain the status of meat imports from Brazil were conducted. Findings indicate that corned beef was verified as the sole product being imported from Brazil. Inquiry into the source of corned beef by importers and verified by BAHA’s database on imports has indicated that they were not from any of the 21 facilities that have been identified by the Brazilian Authorities. It is important to note that the last importation of corned beef into Belize occurred on November 2016; however these were manufactured in July of 2016.
In an effort to safeguard public safety BAHA has decided to implement with immediate effect the following measures:
1. Temporary suspension of the issuance of import permits for Corned Beef from Brazil until all due diligence have concluded and source declared safe.
2. All Corned Beef en-route to Belize will be retained to verify that they come from approved facilities for export and in addition undergo laboratory analysis by BAHA to determine the product’s wholesomeness for human consumption.
3. All corned beef already imported and held in warehouse locally will be quarantined and undergo laboratory analysis by BAHA to determine the product’s wholesomeness for human consumption.
4. BAHA in coordination with the Ministry of Health will sample and test corned beef at the retail level to ensure its wholesomeness.
The Ministry of Health and BAHA commit to continued collaborative efforts with all agencies and stakeholders and to provide necessary and timely update on the progress of this situation.
With the steps Belize has taken to stop these products from entering the country, Corn beef distributor, Grace Kennedy shared that the Brazilian authorities have not done anything to deal with this situation. Until Brazilian authorities can ensure that it is safe and these 21 facilities are up to standard, only then will corn beef be in store shelves again. BAHA will also be testing these products to determine the product’s wholesomeness for human consumption.
BAHA and Ministry of Health’s measures in effort of keeping Belize safe is effective as of Monday, March 27, 2017.
According to the Ministry, Brazilian federal police were alerted that more than 21 meat-processing facilities had illegal and fraudulent sanitary licenses, for which they had paid bribes. There is no way to tell which brands are actually linked to companies named in the scandal.