St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN); The National Agriculture, Health & Food Safety Advisory Committee on Friday (Mar 24) announced the decision to impose a temporary ban on the importation of all animal and animal products from Brazil into the federation, and to remove all corned beef imported from and originating in Brazil from sale.
The Committee, comprised of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Standards, and Customs & Excise Department convened an urgent meeting on Thursday to discuss the developing issue of the tainted Brazilian meat scandal.
According to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Hazel Laws, the Committee decided to impose the ban as “we have lost confidence in that country’s certification process for the export of meat”.
With respect to the removal of the corned beef from store shelves, sellers are being asked to hold onto the items until authorities have received more information on the specific batch numbers and companies that are implicated in the packaging of rotten beef in Brazil.
The CMO said these precautionary measures are recommended to protect the general population from potentially tainted products.
St. Kitts and Nevis joins an increasing number of countries worldwide that are banning importation and sale of meat and meat products from Brazil, in the wake of recent reports that meat producers in Brazil allegedly bribed inspectors to certify meat as safe for consumption that was either rotten or tainted with salmonella.
One regional food manufacturing and distribution company is already feeling effects of the Brazilian tainted meat scandal.
Jamaica-based manufacturers of Grace products, GraceKennedy Ltd, announced Tuesday that it had been working with retailers in several countries including Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Trinidad to pull the corned beef from the shelves and has intentions to do the same in all affected markets.
GraceKennedy stated on Wednesday that it can “confidently state that the factories which supply corned beef to GraceKennedy Ltd are not a part of the current investigation by the Brazilian authorities”.
The company said it had reviewed the information provided by Brazil’s Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply and is satisfied that corned beef is not among the items under scrutiny, and furthermore, none of the meat plants listed by the Brazilian authorities supply corned beef to GraceKennedy Ltd.
On Friday WINN FM spoke with Paul Queeley Director of Consumer Affairs in St. Kitts, asking why local authorities had not indicated to the public earlier that there may be a serious issue with food products being sold in federation.
“We just found out about the issue Monday or Tuesday so we had to investigate what was really going on around this claim. We didn’t really want to put fear in the residents, because people were already calling and asking what’s going on and we did not have any information to tell them about the situation at that point.”
At least two popular brands of tinned corned beef sold in St. Kitts and Nevis will be affected by the withdrawal order, Grace Foods and Exeter.