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Foul Brazilian fowl

SALMONELLA FEARS: A major Brazilian food processor recalled almost 500 tons of fresh chicken products last week

The South African government and South African consumers should be paying close attention to the continuing food safety scandals in Brazil’s meat industry.

Last week, one of Brazil’s biggest food producers, BFR SA, recalled almost 500 tons of chicken due to salmonella contamination worries. Brazil is the major source of the chicken imported into this country, and thousands of tons of chicken pieces come into SA every month.

Yet the compliance of Brazil’s poultry producers with food safety standards has been erratic and at times scandalous.

In the latest incident, salmonella contamination forced a major Brazilian chicken producer to recall a batch of chicken destined for local and export markets.

The European Union has already banned 20 Brazilian producers because of salmonella, and earlier this year Saudi Arabia blocked five producers, presumably for the same reason.

Brazil was the subject of an international food safety scandal in 2017. The “Weak Flesh” investigation by Brazilian authorities uncovered fraud and corruption in the beef and chicken industries. Producers either avoided heath inspections or paid officials to alter unfavourable results.

It is clear from the EU and Saudi actions, and last week’s recall, that the problems in Brazil’s chicken industry have not gone away.

An additional cause for concern is that, due to a lack of resources, our health inspections are not as strict as they could be -not every container that arrives in our ports can be tested- nor are the regulations relating to the thawing and repacking of imported bulk consignments.

On behalf of the poultry industry, I have written to the
minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries requesting action against Brazilian imports. EU countries refuse to allow Brazilian imports until producers have been clear of salmonella for six months. We should do the same.

Salmonella food poisoning is not pleasant, and can sometimes be fatal. Some 200 people died in the listeriosis outbreak in 2018r. We should do everything we can to prevent a salmonella crisis.

Zaak Breitenbach, GM Broiler Organisation, SA Poultry Association

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