CHICAGO – The United States has banned imports of fresh Brazilian beef, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said, after a high percentage of shipments failed to pass safety checks.
The USDA had “recurring concerns about the safety of the products intended for the American market,” after increasing tests on Brazilian beef in March, according to a statement.
The agency raised scrutiny on Brazilian beef and ready-to-eat products as a precaution following an investigation into corruption involving Brazil’s health inspectors that targeted meat companies JBS S.A and BRF S.A.
JBS, the world’s largest meat packer, declined to comment on the U.S. ban.
The USDA’s action threatens the reputation of meat from Brazil, the world’s top exporter of beef and poultry, even though the United States is not a top customer. It also could boost domestic sales in the United States.
Since March, the USDA has rejected 11 percent of Brazilian fresh beef products, compared to the rejection rate of 1 percent for shipments from the rest of the world, the agency said. The shipments, totaling about 1.9 million pounds, raised concerns about public health, animal health and sanitation, according to the USDA.
The agency said none of the rejected lots made it into the U.S. market.
The U.S. suspension will remain in place until Brazil’s Agriculture Ministry “takes corrective action which the USDA finds satisfactory,” according to the agency.