IFA Blasts Brazil's FMD Beef Failures

UK - This week Padraig Walshe continued his criticism on the production methods in the Brazilian beef industry, declaring that the Brazilian beef imports pose a "major Foot and Mouth Disease, animal health and food safety threat to the European Union".
calendar icon 9 April 2008
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Padraig Walsh, IFA president

The Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president went on to say that the ban of Brazilian meat, imposed a couple of months back, must remain indefinitely.

Padraig Walsh said the latest FVO (EU Food & Veterinary Office) report is damning in its criticism of Brazil. Alarmingly, the FVO uncovered and documented unreported FMD outbreaks in Brazil and a total failure on animal identification, holding registration and movement controls.

The IFA President said the FVO report is very clear and states categorically ‘systemic failures were identified in relation to holding registration, animal identification and movement controls. The situation was such that the Brazilian authorities could not provide the guarantees in respect of residency in approved areas and on approved holdings required by the European Union’.

On foot and mouth disease, the FVO report states that on 22 holdings, where an official FMD outbreak occurred, these were not reported to the OIE or the EU. In other words, the Brazilian authorities failed to report a number of FMD cases in 2007 to the appropriate authorities. The FVO inspection team also investigated a dangerous contact holding with 3,000 animals, which had received animals from a holding with FMD positive animals. These animals could move without restriction and FMD lesions were found on the holding.

The FVO report a long list of failures on the notification and control of foot and mouth disease. The report highlights that under the surveillance carried out between October 2006 and January 2007, the FMD virus was still circulating in some areas. The FVO report the failures of notification of vaccination by farmers with significant discrepancies between the number of vaccinated cattle and the receipt of FMD vaccine purchased.

"Systemic failures were identified in relation to holding registration, animal identification and movement controls."
Padraig Walsh, IFA president

On animal identification, registration and movement controls, Padraig Walshe said the FVO report highlights a total and systematic failure or breakdown at farm and central control level in Brazil. He said the facts are this FVO report fully vindicates the IFA/IFJ finding that Brazil does not have a reliable animal identification and traceability system.

The IFA President said the findings contained in the FVO report make a mockery of the claim by the EU Commission that a regionalisation policy for the control of FMD can be successfully applied in Brazil. He said the reality is Brazil does not have a reliable identification and traceability system and in these circumstances, regionalisation cannot be applied and cannot work. Padraig Walshe said the only option available to the EU is to maintain an indefinite ban on Brazil.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Michael Doran listed a number of examples from the FVO report where the traceability system was found to be totally flawed. In one case 701 cattle, which were slaughtered and should have been recorded as dead in the SISBOV database, were still recorded as live. In another case, one of the field officers responsible for SISBOV was described as ‘being in a conflict of interest’.

The FVO found that there was no system in place to validate data on the holdings in the SISBOV system. An inspection report stated that animals were vaccinated even though no animals were present at inspection time.

Michael Doran said the FVO found 1,500 removed ear tags in two boxes on a SISBOV holding but with 70% of the animals still recorded as alive on the database. On the same holding, the FVO found a large presence of unapplied ear tags. In another holding, it was claimed that 92 animals had lost their ear tags, were re-identified, but the old tags remained active on the SISBOV database. On another holding, the farmer had removed ear tags and re-identified the cattle with new numbers. The FVO concluded that the practice of removing ear tags and re-identifying cattle was uncovered.

The FVO mission team identified that out of 54 holdings checked, half of them showed more than 10% discrepancies between the data in the SISBOV database and the actual number of cattle present on the holding.

On certification procedures, the FVO report stated that over half of a sample of 45 certificates checked, only 22 had complete and satisfactory support documents. The FVO concluded that in some establishments deficiencies were found that non-compliance bovine meat could have been exported to the EU. In addition, the FVO report highlighted beef, which had failed the pH test, were dispatched with movement certificates stating that they were eligible for EU export. The IFA livestock leader said the FVO report concluded that the current official control of movements does not serve to reinforce the guarantee that animals from non-approved areas are excluded from slaughter for EU export and is not reliable for the 90/40 days residence rules.

Michael Doran said this conclusion together with the facts on unreported FMD outbreaks leaves the EU Commission regionalisation or ‘double fencing’ policy on Brazil in tatters. He said “the findings in the FVO report are so damning, nobody in the EU Commission could credibly suggest that Europe could even contemplate importing beef from Brazil in the future.

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