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Union Seeks Animal Health Reassurances Around Future Beef Imports

NFU Scotland is seeking reassurances from Europe that animal health concerns will be fully addressed ahead of any potential trade deal with South American countries.

A recent delegation to Brazil and Paraguay, that included Alyn Smith MEP and Scottish journalist Rog Wood, examined the possible impact of a trade deal that could open the door to more significant imports of beef, and perhaps white meats, into Europe.

The Union has written to Mr Smith, asking him to secure reassurances at a European level that before any trade deal is agreed, animal health issues will be properly addressed in the negotiations.  That letter was delivered to Mr Smith’s office yesterday (29 November) by NFU Scotland President, Nigel Miller who is currently in Brussels.

Commenting on the letter, Mr Miller, who is a farmer and qualified vet, said:

“The reports and press coverage generated by the delegation’s visit has focussed attention on the potential impact of a trade deal with South America. Higher levels of meat imports may yet be an outcome of those negotiations but we would want reassurances that animal health risks will be minimised and that production standards on farm, in the abattoir and in the cutting plants will match those required here.

“In parts of South America, Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is still a real danger and a risk which Europe cannot afford to ignore.  Regionalisation in South America to recognise FMD status is a legitimate tool, which should free up trade.  However, regionalisation requires solid traceability to ensure cattle from an infected area do not breach the disease-free zone.

“That same level of traceability should also be expanded to record the FMD vaccine history of each individual animal. The batch identification system for cattle leaving large feedlots, as witnessed by the delegation, would not deliver the desired level of assurance.
 
“The second barrier which blocks the movement of FMD virus is deboning of beef and the pH change post-slaughter, which deactivates the virus in meat. It is vital that there is an independent audit of deboning and pH monitoring at South American abattoirs before product is certified for export.  Previous European audits in South America found deficiencies in this area and the recent visit may have identified if these standards are now being met.
 
“There are other animal health criteria that also require monitoring.   For example, withdrawal periods for veterinary products must be applied to EU levels to avoid residue risks.  Growth promoters are used in the Americas and again these products, which are banned from use here in the EU, should not be part of an export standard production system.

“With Europe looking to counter the development of antimicrobial resistance within our own production systems, standards on antibiotic use should also be applied to imports.  

“It is unclear from the press reports whether the Brazilian industry is addressing these issues or if adequate traceability is in place to allow proper monitoring but we look forward to fuller reports and discussions with the delegation in due course.”  

Ends

Contact Bob Carruth on 0131 472 4006

Date Published:

News Article No.: 140/12


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