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Reports on Measures Taken to Ensure the Highest Possible Standards to Brazilian Meat

The Animal Health Secretariat (SDA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food
Supply (MAPA) issued this Sunday, March 19, 2017, the following note concerning the
police operation involving animal protein production plants (listed here). The entire note
is as follows:
This Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply acknowledged this Friday, March
17, 2017, via the media, an operation called “Carne Fraca” (Weak Flesh), whose
investigations started two years ago, in response to a report issued by a Federal Fiscal
Auditor. Federal Police carried out a series of search and apprehension warrants,
compulsory presentation of statements and pre-trial and
preventive detentions, involving officers of this Ministry, company officials, and other
associated individuals.
In response to the reports, information disseminated through the media, and the 377-
page analysis of the legal decision, we present the following measures adopted by
MAPA, technical clarifications regarding specific questions raised by the media, and
administrative actions to be implemented by MAPA—all for the purpose of avoiding a
reoccurrence of irregular conduct.
ACTIONS TAKEN
1. On March 17th, the following plants were closed as a precautionary measure: BRF
S.A., located in Mineiros/GO, under SIF 1010; Peccin Agro Industrial Ltda, located in
Curitiba/PR, under SIF 2155, and Peccin Agro Industrial Ltda – EPP, located in Jaraguá
do Sul/SC, under SIF 825.
2. To support MAPA’s supplementary oversight actions at the other reported plants,
MAPA requested from the Judicial District in Paraná (14th Federal Districts) the
conclusion of the analyses carried out during the operation. The information requested is
important to determine the recall from the market of any product that might represent a
threat to consumers health. This action complies with the Consumer Defense Code under
Law 8.078, of September 11, 1990.
3. For the purpose of assuring the Brazilian consumer, audit teams were deployed to
check for irregularities in another 18 reported plants apart from the three mentioned
above in Operation “Weak Flesh”. The inspection will include sampling of materials to be
sent for analysis at MAPA’s official laboratory network, giving special attention to those
mentioned during the investigation.
4. MAPA made a determination to launch an investigation into supposed irregular
practices carried out by civil servants, dismissing those civil servants and department
heads cited in the Operation.
5. Notes have been sent to foreign sanitary authorities advising them as to the nature of
the inspections underway and the actions implemented by MAPA that support a rigorous
Brazilian animal products inspection system.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION:
Concerning product safety:
DIPOA is the Department in charge of the inspection and industrial and sanitary control
of products of animal origin in the plants that conduct interstate and international trade, in
accordance with Law 1.283, of December 18, 1950 and amended under Law 7.889, of
November 23, 1989. These actions are implemented by the Federal Inspection Service –
SIF—in 4,837 registered establishments.
SIF has been in existence for 102 years. Throughout this period, the service has actively
supported the development of Brazilian agribusiness and helped consolidate Brazil`s
position as a leader in the export of products of animal origin the world over. SIF is known
internationally for its competence and responsibility in the promotion of food safety.
The technical personnel that oversee the establishments are made up of Federal
Agricultural and Livestock Auditing Inspectors and Sanitary and Industrial Inspection
Agents of products of animal origin. These public servants are responsible for the anteand
post-mortem inspections of animals destined for slaughter. They are also in charge
of overseeing the industry´s self-oversight processes, which include hygienic and sanitary
conditions, sampling for laboratory analyses, and official certification, among others.
In the area of domestic controls, DIPOA coordinates official control programs for food of
animal origin, developed in coordination with the Consultative Scientific Commission on
Microbiology, created by SDA Ordinance 17 of January 25th, 2013. Sampling plans,
statistically designed, were created so that the samples represent a universe and
category of products from the registered establishments. The purpose is to evaluate the
prevalence of the parameters used and orient the inspections.
Among these programs we can highlight the following:
– The National Program for the Control of Pathogens (PNCP), which seeks to determine
the prevalence of pathogens of importance to public health in products
of animal origin, under federal inspection; evaluate the process controls used by the
establishments, manage risk, and preserve food safety.
– The Program for the Evaluation of Compliance with Physical-Chemical and
Microbiological Standards in Edible Products of Animal Origin. (PACPOA), designed to
obtain data used to verify levels of compliance in products of animal origin; evaluate the
control of products and processes in the plants and support DIPOA risk management
procedures.
Results from the analyses carried out by the above-mentioned programs have shown a
general level of compliance exceeding 90% for meat products. It should
be stressed that the majority of products determined to be sub-standard did not present
any public health risk.
MAPA oversees 4,837 establishments registered under DIPOA and a personnel corps of
approximately 11,000 employees. Of this total, only 21 establishments were mentioned in
the “Carne Fraca” Operation; moreover, only 33 civil servants allegedly committed
irregularities.
In effect, 99.8% of the registered establishments and 99.7% of the workforce were not
involved in irregularities according to Operation “Carne Fraca”. These facts lead us to
conclude that such irregularities amount to isolated occurrences.
II- Concerning the risks related to the presence of Salmonella in poultry
Salmonella is a common bacterium found in the gastrointestinal tract of animals. In the
case of poultry, Salmonella is a worldwide problem. There are no effective control
measures to eliminate it from raw meat. Therefore, field production and
establishment-level controls are needed to avoid the presence of pathogenic strains in
poultry products for human consumption.
Specific controls for the presence of Salmonella in poultry have been adopted by MAPA
since 2003. These controls abide by international standards, under the Pathogen
Monitoring and Reduction and Salmonella Control Program on Turkey and Poultry
Carcasses, as approved by Normative Instruction 70, of October 6, 2003. The guidelines
of this program have been recently updated Normative Instruction 20, of October 21,
2016.
Through this update, the control and monitoring mechanisms for Salmonella in SIF
registered establishments were included to reduce the prevalence of this agent. This
revision draws on internationally-renowned professionals and shows some significant
advances, such as Salmonella controls at primary production levels, including flock
controls up to the end product at a SIF slaughterhouse. Under the program, a
determination is made as to the incidence of Salmonella serotypes (S. typhimurium and
S. enteritidis), thereby establishing an adequate level of protection to the consumer.
When batches showing positive results for Salmonella which are relevant to public health
are detected, regulations require that the products undergo heat processing to ensure
destruction of the pathogen. Time and temperature of the thermal process must be
controlled at an industrial level to eliminate the risk of transmission to consumers.
It is also important to stress that Resolution RDC/ANVISA 12, dated January 12, 2001,
does not define Salmonella sp. levels in raw poultry meat, and considering the difficulties
in controlling this pathogen in poultry meat, Resolution RDC/ANVISA 13 dated January 2,
2001, requires mandatory labeling on poultry with the following information:
“If this food is handled incorrectly or consumed raw it can cause health problems. For
your safety follow the instructions below:
-Keep refrigerated or frozen. Thawing can only be done in the refrigerator or in the microwave
oven.
-Keep the raw product separated from other food. Wash working surfaces with water and
soap (including cutting boards), utensils and hands after handling the raw product.
-Consume only after completely cooked or fried.”
III-International notifications concerning sub-standard shipments
During 2016, a total of 184 international notifications were received advising of
microbiological, physical and chemical standards violations, among other irregularities in
products of animal origin exported to 15 countries. Of these violations, 102 were
microbiologically-related; 33 physical-chemical; and 49 due to other irregularities. Russia
issued the majority of notifications, with 75 microbiological, 25 physical-chemical and 16
involving other irregularities, for a total of 133. Over this period, a total of 852,000
shipments were exported to the international market.
These data represent exports of all types of products of animal origin, and demonstrate
the low number of violations when compared to the volume of batches traded
internationally. The demonstrated level of compliance is 99.98% for all exports.
IV- Concerning the use of additives in meat products
The media has reported that one establishment used to “make-up” the meat, supposedly
rotten, using ascorbic acid, a product described by media sources as being carcinogenic.
Ascorbic acid is a food additive (INS 300) authorized for use in foods and in keeping with
Good Manufacturing Practices (BPF), as determined by Resolution of the Collegiate
Directorate – RDC 45, dated November 3, 2010, from ANVISA. The referenced RDC
included the functions of ascorbic acid as established by the Codex Alimentarius, so that
its use will not represent a health hazard.
As a food additive, the use of ascorbic acid is authorized only when needed in the
categories of foods and roles allowed by specific technical regulations. For meat
products, the technical reference is Normative Instruction 51, from December 29, 2006,
that encompasses the Technical Regulation for Attribution of Additives and their Limits
and allows the use of this additive in meat products as an antioxidant,
without any restriction as to its levels. Sodium lactate is also permitted (INS325) in meat
products as an acidity regulator, and its use is likewise unrestricted.
Sorbic acid (INS 200) is an authorized food additive used in meat products as a
preserving agent for surface treatment in the following product categories: industrialized
dried meat products, cured and/or matured or not (e.g. salami, raw ham, among others)
and in other salted raw meat products (e.g. jerked beef or meat parts to “feijoada”, among
others). Its use, however, is limited to 0.02%. As far as the additives sodium nitrite (INS
250) and sodium nitrate (INS 251), authorized as preservatives, these are limited to
0.015% and 0.03%, respectively.
Food additives, when used in authorized products and within their established maximum
limits, do not represent a threat to consumers.
V- Concerning the use of meat from a hog´s head in the preparation of meat products
Contrary to information disseminated by the media regarding alleged irregularities in the
use of meat obtained from a hog´s head in the preparation of Calabrese sausages, it is
important to clarify that these meats can be used in the preparation of meat products and
they do not present any threat to the health of consumers. In fact the use of meat from
the head of animals does not constitute any irregularity in the preparation of sausages.
Meat obtained from the head of animals is mainly composed of the masseter and
pterygoids, which are chewing muscles, along with muscles from the base of the tongue.
These muscles are known as “industrial meats” and are widely used in the preparation of
meat products worldwide.
The so-called “industrial meats” include all skeleton and muscular masses obtained in the
preparation of carcasses at slaughter houses. It also includes the muscular portion of the
esophagus, diaphragm and its pillars. During processing, excess fat, connective tissue
and lymph nodes are removed, and the muscular mass is washed, drained and wrapped
with appropriate material.
Brazilian national regulations allow the use of industrial meats in the preparation of
several meat products. In the case of sausages, the Technical Identification and Quality
Regulation, approved by MAPA (Annex III of Normative Instruction SDA/MAPA no. 4, of
March 31, 2000) establishes the meats of different animal species and salt as mandatory
ingredients in sausage preparation (Item. 4.1.1), and it also allows for the use of other
ingredients (Item 4.1.2). In the case of Calabrese sausage, it is important to note that
this product is made exclusively from cured pork, with additional ingredients to give it the
tangy and characteristic taste of Calabrese peppers. The product may or may not be
submitted to heating in a stove for dehydration or cooking, and smoking is an optional
process.
VI- Concerning the alleged use of cardboard in the preparation of meat products
Information thus far presented in the media seems to be contradictory in nature, as it
pertains to the alleged use of cardboard in the preparation of meat products. Whereas
information published on some websites from the transcript of a telephone call between
company workers indicate that cardboard was indeed to be used as packaging for
mechanically separated meats (MSM), other sites seem to suggest that the cardboard
was to be used in the product mix. Since the information published is not very precise
and the judicial order does not elaborate further, MAPA contacted the official inspection
team assigned to the establishment, and confirmed that cardboard was not used as a
component of meat products or MSM, but rather as packaging material outside plastic
bags with the product to enable it to retain its shape during freezing, for ease of storage.
The use of cardboard as packaging material is not allowed in the MSM processing
industry to avoid cross contamination with the product. In this case, since the
establishment did not have plastic trays to freeze the products, they decided to discard
the material, which was made under the supervision of inspectors.
VII- Notifications about the establishment BRF S.A, under SIF 1010
Considering repeated occurrences in early 2017, associated with establishment SIF
1010, located in Mineiros, state of Goias, which received five notifications, in addition to
those received in 2016, DIPOA suspended production and sanitary certification for all raw
turkey products and turkey meat preparations to the EU and other countries that request
salmonella control and serotyping, as of February 6, 2017. Production and shipment of
products for domestic and international markets was subject to validation though lab
testing of representative samples from each batch and shipment to ensure that they were
not contaminated with salmonella serotypes S. typhimurium or S. enteritidis, pursuant to
Normative Instruction no. 20, of 2016.
Because of the nature of complaints arising from operation “carne Fraca,” MAPA ordered
the establishment to be closed, as a precautionary measure, pending further
investigation.
OTHER ACTIONS
MAPA had already begun to adopt actions to improve its inspection process, provide
more control over activities carried out by decentralized units, and curb outside
interference. This follows the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Transparency,
Oversight and Control, the General Comptrollers’ Office, and the Federal Court of
Auditors.
These actions include the following:
1. Directive 193, of 2016, to review the Regulation for Sanitary and Industrial Inspection
of Animal Products (RIISPOA)
The directive created a working group to submit proposed revisions to the most important
regulation regarding the inspection of animal products in Brazil, i.e. the Regulation for
Sanitary and Industrial Inspection of Animal Products (RIISPOA), which was approved by
Decree 30,691, of March 29, 1952.
The recommendations of the working group were submitted in December 2016, and the
final revised regulation will be signed by the Brazilian President on March 29, 2017.
Among the advantages of the newly revised regulations were clearly defined duties and
responsibilities of the private sector and those of the government inspection system. Its
structure of violations and penalties was also revised and updated.
2. Directive no. 257, of November 21, 2016, making the assignment of government
employees subject to prior assessment by the Secretariat for Agricultural Protection
By virtue of Directive no. 257/2016, the assignment of government employees—which
used to be the responsibility of superintendents at MAPA decentralized units—is now
under the purview of the Secretariat for Agricultural Protection and Executive Secretariat.
3. Directive no. 99, of May 12, 2016, creating the General Coordinating Office for
Assessment and Audit, under DIPOA
By virtue of Directive no. 99/2016, a specific office was created within the Animal
Products Inspection Department (DIPOA) that will be exclusively in charge of auditing
activities conducted by Inspection Services at MAPA decentralized units.
The Brazilian animal products inspection system, under the responsibility of the Ministry
of Agriculture is consistent and sound and gives a high level of safety to consumers, both
Brazilian and foreign. The facts described in the operation “Carne Fraca” are isolated
occurrences that do not in any way tarnish the reputation and credibility of the inspection
service. These acts were committed by criminal organizations, which are being removed
from the Brazilian federal inspection service.
The Ministry of Agriculture employees have full autonomy to carry out their duties and
conduct inspections of animal products. As demonstrated, the vast majority of them are
not in any way linked to illicit activities. They are proud of their institution and all that the
Brazilian Inspection System emblem stands for.
Brasília, March 19, 2017,
Luis Rangel,
Secretary of Agriculture and Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA)
In order to learn more about the high quality standards of the Brazilian meat industry,
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