Online Petition Seeks to Halt Brazilian Beef Imports

An online petition is seeking a ban on beef imports to the U.S. from Brazil. Posted on the White House’s We the People Website, the petition cites Brazil’s tainted meat scandal in asking the administration to ban “unsafe imports” from Brazil until all beef in the U.S. is sold with a country-of-origin label. Food Safety News reports the petition was filed April 13th with the goal of collecting 100,000 signatures in 30 days to get a response from the Trump White House. The online petition states: “This petition will benefit the largest segment of American agriculture – the U.S. cattle industry, as well as protect American consumers.”

The petition is backed by R-CALF USA. R-CALF has long been a supporter of country-of-origin meat labeling. However, Congress in 2015 voted to take the U.S. COOL law off the books after the World Trade Organization approved trade retaliations by Mexico and Canada of more than $1 billion as a result of the law.

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Meanwhile, Brazil has indicted 63 people for their role in a corruption scheme within the nation’s Ministry of Agriculture. Drovers Cattle Network reports the charges allege federal auditors at meat processing facilities took bribes for years in exchange for fraudulent sanitary permits. Suspects in the case are charged with falsifying medical records and certificates, tampering with food products, conspiracy and corruption. Allegations also include selling spoiled meat and injecting water to sell poultry at higher prices. Police also reported that the producers under investigation used chemical ingredients, in quantities far above the legally permitted amount, to “disguise the physical aspect or smell of rotten meat.”

Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter, but after the investigation was announced, the nation saw exports drop to near zero within a week. Most export sales have resumed since. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last month said none of the slaughter or processing facilities implicated in the Brazilian scandal had shipped meat products to the United States.