Singapore

Meat imports from Brazil safe for consumption: AVA

Meat imports from Brazil safe for consumption: AVA
Processed meat at NTUC Fairprice. TODAY file photo
Published: 12:40 PM, March 20, 2017
Updated: 12:02 AM, March 21, 2017

SINGAPORE — Singapore does not import any meat from the establishments in Brazil embroiled in a corruption probe over tainted products, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Monday (March 20). However, the authority has stepped up surveillance of imported meat and meat products from the South American country, it added.

In reassuring consumers here that imported meat and meat products from Brazil are safe for consumption, the AVA said none of the 21 meat-processing establishments placed under a special surveillance regime by the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply are approved for export to Singapore.

Separately, Brazilian Ambassador to Singapore Flavio Soares Damico reiterated the same point, telling TODAY that meat from his country is safe for consumption. 

Of a total of 4,837 meat-processing facilities in Brazil, only 21 were targeted, and none of these export to Singapore, he said.

Mr Damico added: “The scope of the investigations is fairly limited, focusing on the actions of 33 individuals, mainly 33 out of 11,000 civil servants.” 

The rotten-meat scandal made news when the Brazilian police revealed last Friday that a two-year probe found that major meatpackers had bribed 33 health inspectors to keep rotten meat on the market, with earlier media reports stating that some of the bad meat was exported to Europe.

The South American nation exports its meat to more than 150 countries, with principal markets as far apart as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.

Brazil is listed as a major source of supply of beef, chicken, pork, fruits and sugar to Singapore, and supermarket operators NTUC FairPrice and Dairy Farm here reached out to their suppliers on Monday to seek clarification on the situation. 

Dairy Farm said that it received confirmation from its suppliers that none of its imports are affected.

NTUC FairPrice earlier said that it imports poultry from two suppliers investigated by the Brazilian authorities: The two holding companies are BRF, which owns the Sadia and Perdigao brands, and JBS, owner of Big Frango and Swift brands. 

In an update on Monday, the supermarket said the authorities have since stated that none of the meat processing establishments placed under special surveillance in Brazil are exported to Singapore. 

“Our suppliers have also provided assurance that their products are safe for consumption and subject to strict quality requirements,” the NTUC spokesperson said.

The AVA disclosed that it has a two-level accreditation process which assesses the robustness of an exporting country’s national animal health and food safety, as well as the authorities’ power to enforce food safety 
requirements. 

Even if a country is approved as a source of meat supply, each meat establishment will still be evaluated to ensure that it meets the AVA’s food safety requirements before being allowed to export to Singapore.

Once the meat arrives, each shipment is physically checked for spoilage and has its health certification verified at the point of import. Samples are also taken for laboratory testing, food safety and authenticity. 

The AVA said that there have not been any significant instances of non-compliance in meat products from Brazil. However, it has stepped up surveillance of imported meat and meat products from Brazil, and is monitoring the situation closely. It is also working with meat importers and on standby to provide alternative sources if needed.

Housewife Ms Rozanah Mohd Shah, 43, said she usually buys frozen chicken wings from Brazil at NTUC. 

“I’m not really disturbed by (the news) because I know the authorities are quite strict ... no need to be alarmed unless the authorities issue an advisory,” she said. 

Ms Bipasha Minocha, 41, who works in the education industry, is glad that the authorities have given their reassurance, but said she would still be cutting back on buying meat products for a while.