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Poultry industry fears import link with listeriosis

BRAZILIAN CHICKEN PASTE

The South African Poultry Association has expressed concern about imported chicken paste – used in processed meats, including polonies.

In the wake of the listeriosis outbreak, the association said reports about corruption and the evasion offood-safety checks in the Brazilian meat and poultry industries were a concern.

Brazilian police are said to be investigating top executives at major poultry exporter BRF following allegations of fraud meant to facilitate the evasion of food-safety checks. BRF is one of the biggest poultry exporters in the world. It exports mechanically deboned meat, a paste – used in processed meats, including polonies and viennas.

At the weekend, the poultry association called on the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to deter mine whether BRF is a supplier of mechanically deboned meat to SA and, if so, how many tonnes are imported.

“We would also like the department to establish from the Brazilian authorities whether the food-saf ety tests that BRF is alleged to have evaded included tests forlisteria. Given the serious outbreak of listeriosis in SA, and the deaths of 180 people, we hope that this is something the department will investigate speedily,” the association said.

It also said the department had been slow in implementing – a listeria test protocol for imported mechanically deboned meat. “We understand that this was only concluded with meat importers last week. When it is implemented, it will be a step forward in protecting consumers, but it should have happened long ago.

“The South African poultry industry has had a self-funded test protocol forlisteria in place for years and the department has unfettered access to our abattoirs,” it said.

“It is time that imported meat and poultry products are held to the same standards as locally produced products.”

The association said it was a matter of concern that while many countries are blocking processed meat products from SA, the country accepts untested imported mechanically deboned meat, “and we now find that food-safety measures in the exporting country may have been circumvented”.

Spokeswoman for the department Bomikazi Molapo said it had written to the chief veterinary officer and the Brazilian embassy in SA for an official report on BRE.

Bekezela Phakathi
Parliamentary Writer

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