Damning report on Brazilian beef presented to European Parliament

MEPs call for EU import ban

Brussels, 17th July 2007 — The European Commission is “in denial” about the safety of Brazilian beef imports, Sir Robert Atkins MEP, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Delegation in the European Parliament said today, after it once again refused an EU import ban.

The European Parliament heard evidence from the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Farmers’ Journal, which launched a joint investigation into Brazilian beef - reporting virtually no system of traceability, the illegal removing of tags and the use of illegal growth hormones.

The IFA visited a total of 42 farms ranging from suckler to beef farms, with herd sizes ranging from those slaughtering 200-300 cattle a year to those slaughtering more than 2,500. They reported that traceability on the farms was usually conjured up a few days before slaughter. None of the 15 farms on which an in-depth study was carried out had a full traceability system in place. The IFA also reported finding evidence of a number of official tags being illegally removed.

Perhaps more concerning is the suspicion that beef may be getting through from regions where exports are banned following an outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease (FMD) in 2005. It is suspected tag removal may be allowing banned cattle to be moved into other regions where exports are still permitted.

A Food and Veterinary office (FVO) report in 2006 highlighted a number of concerns regarding ear tagging and medicines being used that are banned in the EU. It also confirmed that the situation had not improved since 2003 when the last inspection was carried out.

Last year the EU imported 333,000 tonnes of beef from Brazil, of which around 30,000 tonnes goes to the UK.

Conservative MEPs will lodge a ‘written declaration’ calling for an import ban on Brazilian beef when the Parliament returns in September.

Sir Robert said:

“The European Commission seems to be in denial about the safety of Brazilian beef imports. The credibility of the Commission is at stake here.

“The EU requires its own beef producers to abide by stringent standards, particularly after outbreaks of Foot and Mouth and BSE in recent years. It is wrong both to consumers and farmers to force our own producers to comply with these standards while turning a blind eye to substandard products from Brazil.

“The agriculture committee was not satisfied with the answers being supplied by the European Commission and we are calling a special meeting after the recess to which we will invite both the agriculture and health Commissioners.”

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