Brussels, 6 October 2006
Markos Kyprianou, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, will visit Brazil from 09-13 October to reiterate the EU’s determination to protect consumers with regard to food safety and animal health. He will use the visit to underline the duty that Brazilian authorities have in ensuring that products destined for Europe are fully compliant with EU rules. The Commission has already taken stringent measures for certain Brazilian commodities due to food safety and animal health concerns, and Mr Kyprianou will stress that further measures may be taken if identified problems aren’t satisfactorily addressed. During this trip, Mr Kyprianou will meet with Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim, Agriculture Minister Luis Carlos Guedes Pinto and Secretary of State for Agriculture Gabriel Alves Maciel, amongst others. He will also visit a residue control laboratory, a slaughterhouse, a tuna factory and a cattle ranch in the State of Goiàs.
Commissioner Kyprianou said “The EU’s rules on food safety state that imports must meet the same high standards as are demanded of EU products or they will not be allowed on our market. The Food and Veterinary Office carries out regular inspections in Brazil, and the Commission is closely monitoring the action being taken by the authorities there to amend any deficiencies found. If there is deemed to be any threat to food safety or consumer protection, the Commission has shown that it will not hesitate in taking the necessary measures.“
Past inspections in Brazil carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) found deficiencies in Brazilian controls for food exports to the EU, including inadequate controls for veterinary residues in certain commodities. In response, the Commission banned certain imports from Brazil, such as honey and game-meat, and has been closely monitoring Brazil’s progress in addressing problems in other areas. The Commission intends to withdraw the approval of the residue plans for pig meat, ovine/caprine and milk/milk products, although these products cannot be exported due to other sanitary reasons. As far as beef, horse meat, poultry meat and aquaculture are concerned the complementary guarantees provided by the Brazilian authorities are considered to be sufficient to address the remaining deficiencies. A clear message has been sent to the Brazilian authorities that failure to satisfactorily implement these guarantees to comply with EU residue control requirements may result in further measures. The Brazilian authorities have committed to rectifying the situation, and are in frequent contact with the Commission with regard to the action they are taking in this respect. Another FVO inspection of Brazil’s residue controls is scheduled for early 2007.
An FVO inspection in June 2006 found problems related to possible levels of histamine in Brazilian fishery products, poor hygiene in fishery production, and questionable approval procedures for Brazilian fishery establishments. In response, Member States recently backed a Commission Decision to impose safeguard measures for fishery products from Brazil (see MEX/06/2509). These measures allow exports to continue while safeguarding the protection of consumers by imposing mandatory testing for histamines. In addition, the Commission decided that five fishery establishments in Brazil which were identified by the FVO to be non-compliant with EU hygiene rules should be removed from the list of establishments authorised to export to the EU, in addition to those delisted by the Brazilian authorities.
Animal traceability is another area in which the Commission has demanded that the Brazilian authorities tighten their controls and improve their legislation. Brazil has assured the EU that it is implementing the FVO’s recommendations and overhauling its system for animal identification and traceability. Recent FVO inspections have reported evidence of restructuring in this area, and Brazil recently adopted new, stricter legislation on animal traceability. The Commission will be closely examining the implementation of these new rules and procedures during the next FVO visit to Brazil.
In addition, outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in some parts of Brazil led the EU to block imports of beef from 3 Brazilian states (which cover an area larger than the EU) and require strict certification for beef from the areas authorised for export. The FVO has conducted numerous inspections to assess the FMD situation in Brazil, and has deemed the current import ban to be sufficient protection against this disease entering the EU through Brazilian products. However, the import ban can be extended at any time if FMD were to spread to other regions of Brazil.