Brazil farm minister heads to USA over fresh beef ban

He said USDA approval for Brazil's fresh beef, which was only granted past year, was expected to open the door to bigger fresh beef importers such as Japan and South Korea.

Although the United States imports only a sliver of Brazil's fresh beef exports, it is a prestigious market.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture described repeated import violations involving raw beeffrom seven Brazilian facilities, indicating a "system-wide problem", according to a letter seen by Reuters on Friday explaining the reason for Thursday's ban.

Since March, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has been inspecting 100 percent of all meat products arriving in the United States from Brazil.

The USDA first cleared USA consumption of fresh Brazilian beef previous year and it still represents just 1 percent of the Brazilian industry's exports, according to a note from the sales desk of bank BTG Pactual. The shipments, totaling about 1.9 million pounds, raised concerns about public health, animal health and sanitation, the USDA said.

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Camardelli said about 120 containers with some 3,000 tonnes of Brazilian meat now are at sea headed to the United States.

This comes on the back of a breakthrough for the U.S. last month when China authorized United States beef imports for the first time in 13 years. This has resulted in a refusal of 11 percent of the beef, much higher than the normal 1 percent refusal rate, according to CNN Money. The imports of beef products have been suspended because of safety concerns. Today's action to suspend all fresh beef shipments from Brazil supersedes the self-suspension.

In Brazil, the U.S. clampdown is seen as partly influenced by trade rivalries as well as health concerns. It has sent almost 50 million pounds of beef to the U.S.so far this year. Camardelli said producers had asked the Brazilian government to resolve the problem in a meeting with their U.S. counterparts.

In May, Brazil re-opened its doors to USA fresh beef exports after a 13-year hiatus, the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service reported.

Several countries, including major importer China, temporarily stopped buying Brazilian meats. The country is also a major exporter of chicken and pork products. Brazil, one of the biggest meat exporters in the world, is now exporting to many countries but the announcement from the United States is not good news.

The Canadian agency said it recently blocked imports from one JBS SA plant in Brazil that did not meet food safety requirements, but is accepting meat from plants that meet its standards.

  • Zachary Reyes