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‘Brazil salmonella scare poses potential food safety risk’

The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has denied that the organisation’s call to have chicken imports from Brazil banned due to a salmonella scare is opportunistic.

Izaak Breitenbach,managing director of SAPA’s Broiler Organisation, said the organisation had written to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) about health and safety concerns with regard to poultry imports from Brazil. This followed news that Brazilian food processor BRF had recalled hundreds of tons of poultry meat in February.

Breitenbach said this latest incident substantiated the information received during tariff negotiations with EU officials.”In these discussions, [EU officials] said they had stopped all imports from Brazil as a result of contamination with Salmonella enteritidis.

He said on visits to processing plants in Brazil, EU officials had also found that food hygiene and safety standards were not being met. Saudi Arabia had also recently announced the banning of all poultry imports from Brazil. Breitenbach added that DAFF had previously confirmed to SAPA that its inspectors had found signs of salmonella during tests on some containers arriving from Brazil, which were then returned to that country.

A BRAZILIAN FOOD PROCESSOR RECALLED TONS OF POULTRY MEAT

Therefore, unless every container was being tested, the risk remained, he said.

“There are 55 containers of chicken arriving in South Africa every working day, 22 days of the month,” Breitenbach said. He added that SAPA had written to DAFF saying there was enough information based on EU and Saudi Arabian reports, as well as the department’s own findings, to halt poultry imports from Brazil. He said DAFF had confirmed receipt of the letter and replied that scientific investigations were being conducted,on which a final decision would be based.

According to a statement by BRF, it had recalled “164t of fresh Perdigao-branded chicken pieces and offal” in the domestic market because laboratory tests had detected potential Salmonella enteritidis bacteria on the chicken. The company was also withdrawing nearly 300t of a total of 744t of meat distributed to other countries. “The [remaining] 445t have been tracked and tagged by BRF,” the statement said.

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