STATEMENT – Following a series of media reports regarding the sale of unwholesome meats and meat products from Brazil, the Government of Saint Lucia on March 21, 2017 requested and received information from the Brazilian Embassy as follows:
1. The Government of Brazil has launched an investigation (named Operation Weak Flesh), relating to the sale of unwholesome meat and meat products produced in Brazil
2. The operations of three meat establishments have been suspended and another 21 such establishments were placed under a special inspection regime conducted by an assigned task force of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply in Brazil.
3. Out of 4,837 meat establishments subject to Brazilian federal inspections, 21 are allegedly involved in irregularities
4. The investigation included a review of the actions of personnel who were employed to conduct inspection of meat and meat products in Brazil
Although Saint Lucia is not an importer of fresh and frozen beef, neither poultry nor poultry products from Brazil, it is estimated that approximately 90 percent (90%) of corned beef imported into Saint Lucia originates from Brazil. It is further noted that since the commencement of the investigation, several countries, including territories of the European Union, China, Chile and Jamaica, have instituted measures to restrict their importation of meat and poultry products from Brazil.
In light of the above, a meeting was convened on Tuesday March 21, 2017 among Saint Lucia’s national agencies responsible for food safety, including the Veterinary and Livestock Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Consumer Affairs Division of the Department of Commerce, the St Lucia Bureau of Standards and the Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Arising out of that meeting the following decisions and actions were taken:
1. A temporary suspension on the importation of corned beef from Brazil into Saint Lucia, to be imposed with immediate effect
2. Detention of all corned beef originating from Brazil until further notice
3. Increased surveillance of establishments that trade in corned beef or related products locally
4. Continued networking with regional and sub-regional partner agencies in developing a common position in response to this matter
The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to work with the Brazilian Authorities with a view to ensuring that this matter is resolved satisfactorily in the interest of health and public safety.
In the meantime the Ministry wishes to advise consumers to refrain from the consumption of corned beef from Brazil until further notice.