The move follows reports from Brazilian authorities that several major Brazilian meat processors have been “selling rotten beef and poultry”. The companies are also alleged to have paid hefty bribes to auditors in exchange for fraudulent sanitary licenses.
The Brazilian companies implicated by the Brazilian authorities supply 99.5 per cent of the corned beef on the local market.
Given the gravity of the situation, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Karl Samuda called an emergency meeting this afternoon at the ministry’s Hope Gardens offices, stressing the importance of safeguarding the welfare of consumers.
Officials from the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, the Consumer Affairs Commission, The Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the National Compliance Regulatory Authority, and the Jamaica Customs Agency attended the meeting. In addition, the ministry has convened a meeting with major distributors and importers of corned beef locally.
Following the discussions, it was agreed that given the implications for the country’s public health, the following steps are to be taken immediately:
1. A temporary hold will be placed on all permits for the import of corned beef from Brazil.
2. As a precautionary measure, all corned beef currently on the shelves will be withdrawn.
3. The National Food Recall Committee will meet immediately to determine next steps and inform when it will be safe to consume the product.
In the interim, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will conduct chemical test profiles to ascertain the contents of corned beef on the market and the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry will conduct microbiological and residue tests to ascertain whether contaminants are present in the products on the local market.
Consumers are also being cautioned not to consume corned beef until further notice.