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Mar 24, 2017

Belize Takes Steps to Address Brazil Corned Beef Issue

Belizeans are lovers of corned beef; there are seven brands of corned beef on supermarket shelves.  There was a scare over the weekend when Brazil’s Secretariat of Animal and Plant Health of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply issued a warning that the Brazilian Federal Police had detected irregular practices in the certification of meat and meat products in twenty-one processing facilities.  Since then, those operations have been suspended.  Locally, the Belize Agricultural and Health Authority got in action and verified that corned beef imported from Brazil were not from any of the implicated processing plants. In fact, the last importation of corned beef into Belize occurred in November 2016.  Today, Grace Kennedy Belize Limited, one of the importers of corned beef, issued a release saying that it can confidently state that the factories which supply corned beef to Grace Kennedy (Belize) Limited are not a part of the current investigation by the Brazilian authorities. Marketing Manager at Grace Kennedy Belize Limited, Marnix Perez, explains.

 

Marnix Perez

Marnix Perez, Marketing Manager, Grace Kennedy (Belize) Ltd.

“From our own investigations, this is something that obviously came out over the weekend and on Monday, we started dealing with it. We were given the indication from the BAHA equivalent in Brazil that it didn’t relate to corned beef first of all. So it did affect beef and poultry products, but not necessarily corned beef. In particular, the plants that produce corned beef for Grace Kennedy were not implicated in part of this investigation. So we were obviously relieved by that. Nevertheless, we got into discussions with BAHA and the Ministry of Health here and we started working immediately to try to see how we could kinda give more comfort to the consumers, but also to the government to let them feel that whatever is here is safe. We’ve opened our doors to them; they’ve come gotten samples from the stock that we have here, also stock that is on the shelves, in the trade just for them to have that confidence. We’ve also shared information from the Brazilian government as well for them also to do their follow up as well. The rotation is much slower for Belize so when we get a container it lasts several months. In fact the container that would have arrived in let’s say November, the product that was produced was several months before. So we don’t have any concerns, there hasn’t been any issues that have been related to that; we would have caught that immediately. We have not had those issues.  You should also note Duane, because there seems to be a misconception here, all corned beef that is in Belize—and it is not only the Grace brand—all corned beef in Belize comes from Brazil. So if that would have been an issue, all corned beef would have been affected not only the Grace brand. So for us and the other importers it was something that we really wanted to ensure that was cleared; that we did whatever was necessary to give consumers the comfort that everything is fine.”

 

In an effort to safeguard the public, BAHA has temporarily suspended the issuance of import permits for corned beef from brazil until all due diligence have concluded; all corned beef en route to Belize will be retained to verify that they come from approved facilities for export; all corned beef already imported and held in warehouses locally and retail stores will be quarantined and undergo laboratory analysis by BAHA in coordination with the Ministry of Health. 

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