Labs covered-up Salmonella-positive results: New arrests in Brazil rotten meat scandal

Brazilian police made new arrests Monday in a probe into a tainted meat scandal that first erupted last year — this time targeting laboratories accused of covering up salmonella in products from food giant BRF.

“The investigation showed that five laboratories and the company’s analysis departments falsified results” shown to health inspectors, the federal police said in a statement.

Agriculture Ministry representative Alexandre Campos da Silva said the department received 410 notifications of salmonella presence from 12 countries that imported the meat in question last year — 80 per cent of which were in the EU.

Monday’s operation — the third since the scandal was uncovered — involved 270 police officers and 21 health agents across five Brazilian states.

Federal police commissioner Mauricio Boscardi Grillo said 10 of 11 people targeted with arrest warrants were detained, including former CEO Pedro de Andrade Faria.

BRF is one of the largest food companies in the world, exporting products, primarily meat, to over 120 countries.

Results rather than rules: Ontario backs down on meat inspection

Jim Romahn, the dean of Ontario agriculture reporting, writes that, after years of blistering criticism from small-business meat packers, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food is introducing new regulations that take effect Jan. 1.

meat_inspectorThere are more than 40 changes to technical regulations, most of them to offer flexibility in how meat packers can meet the standards. Laurie Nichols who runs the Ontario Independent Meat Processors Association said the existing regulations are “prescriptive” and the new ones are based on “outcomes” without specifying precisely what needs to achieve those outcomes.

She said her members welcome the increased flexibility.

For example, the existing regulations have construction requirements for dry storage facilities for items such as sanitizing liquids, brushes, brooms, etc. The new regulations require that the items be off the floor and in a secure location which could now be met by putting the items in containers and on shelving. There is also a major policy change to move inspection of foodservice establishments out of OMAF and over to local health units. The expectations for food safety will remain the same.

There is also a provision for these foodservice establishments to conduct a small volume of meat processing. Nichols said that a policy the independent meat packers want clarified because it’s a competitive issue. OMAF is mentioning only a minor change in pre-inspection and post-inspection that adds another half hour of free service before it begins charging fees for service.

Cost of privatizing meat inspection in Australia creeps up as Europe rejects the industry inspection model

I don’t take Food and Water seriously and don’t care who does meat inspection, as long as the results are public.

Chicago_meat_inspection_swift_co_1906But according to ABC, there are doubts the part-privatization of Australia’s meat export inspection regime is working.

Food activist groups in the United States are complaining about contamination in exports, while the European market won’t accept meat that’s not tested by government officers or third parties.

As well, Australia’s largest meat processor has returned to the government system to satisfy market demands.

Since 2011, Australia’s government-run meat inspection service has outsourced the work, seeing up to 200 meat inspectors go from the Agriculture Department, at a cost of $12 million in redundancies.

The new system of Australian Export Meat Inspection Service AEMIS is recognised by the US as equivalent to its own, even though the US has a large federal meat inspector workforce.

But an activist group in America, Food and Water Watch, is accusing Australia of missing contamination, alleging ‘serious food safety violations, traces of fecal matter on meat, and positive tests for E.col.

The union representing the remaining 200 Australian Government meat inspectors says the members are worried.

‘Diseased meat could go undetected’ due to EU rule change

More diseased meat could end up in sausages and pies because of changes to safety checks in slaughterhouses, hygiene inspectors have warned.

Inspectors in abattoirs used to be able to cut open pig carcasses to check for signs of disease.

food.inspectorBut under new European regulations, supported by Britain’s Food Standards Agency (FSA), they will have to rely on visual checks alone.

The FSA says the new system avoids the risk of harmful bacteria being spread.

Around eight million pigs a year are slaughtered for meat in the UK.

Ron Spellman, a British meat inspector with 30 years’ experience, says the new regulations, which took effect from 1 June, risk diseased parts of animals going undetected.

Mr Spellman, who is director general of the European Working community for Food inspectors and Consumer protection (EWFC), which represents meat inspectors across the EU, said: “Last year we know that there were at least 37,000 pigs’ heads with abscesses or tuberculosis lesions in lymph nodes in the head. They won’t be cut now.

“There’s no way to see those little abscesses, little tuberculosis lesions without cutting those lymph nodes.”

Meat from pigs’ heads, is recovered by specialised parts of boning plants and goes into pies, sausages and other processed foods.

The new regulations have been drawn up by the European Food Safety Authority, an agency funded by the EU, but they are based on scientific advice from the FSA.

Ottawa quiet on reason for Mexico’s beef inspections last year

In the interest of open and honest communication, no one from the federal government will say why Mexican officials quietly inspected six Canadian slaughterhouses last year, part of an audit related to what one company called a border “issue.”

The Globe and Mail got confirmation of the inspections as Prime Minister Stephen Harper makes his first official visit to Mexico. Representatives of Canada’s beef industry meat_and_you_simpsons(2)are among those who have joined Mr. Harper on the trip. Industry and government officials were reluctant to discuss the unpublicized inspections, but one major beef producer, Cargill Inc., said six facilities were inspected by Mexican officials in October as part of a “beef plant audit,” including Cargill’s beef plant in Guelph, Ont. The reason remains unclear.

“This situation was not related to food safety,” Cargill spokesman Michael Martin said, referring questions to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The agency confirmed inspections took place, but gave few details.

UK meat plants get public scrutiny with cause for concern list

Scores on Doors was too direct for the Brits, but now they’ve come out with a Cause for Concern scheme to name and shame meat plants that have lousy audits.

It’s part of the UK Food Standards Agency ongoing commitment to openness and transparency to regularly publish audit reports of approved meat plants in England, Scotland and Wales (audit here means those done by government inspectors, rather than third-parties; but I could be wrong, it’s not clear).

Cause for concern is a process developed in response to Professor Pennington’s report on the 2005 E. coli outbreak in Wales, which recommended that there needed to be improved management oversight of poorer performing meat plants. The process makes it clear which plants need to improve their standards to ensure risks to public health are kept to a minimum.

There are currently eight premises on the list. This will be updated, initially on a weekly basis, to reflect changes as meat plants move on or off the list.

Tim Smith, Chief Executive of the FSA, said, “If our inspectors decided that hygiene standards in a plant are so poor that public health could be at imminent risk, we would immediately stop that plant from operating. However, for those businesses that could improve quickly by following our advice, we hope that publication of this list will push them to raise their game and get off the list.”

FSIS issues draft guidelines on in-plant video monitoring – technology could strengthen humane handling, food safety

Apparently the U.S. was paying attention to that whole video-in-slaughterhouses-to-improve-animal-welfare-and-food-safety discussion. They just never let me in on the details.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued draft guidelines to assist meat and poultry establishments that want to improve operations by using in-plant video monitoring.

(They’re saying we’re from the government, we’re here to help; run).

The purpose of the draft guidance, Compliance Guidelines for Use of Video or Other Electronic Monitoring or Recording Equipment in Federally Inspected Establishments, is to make firms aware that video or other electronic monitoring or recording equipment may be used in federally inspected establishments where meat and poultry are processed. Establishments may choose to use video or other electronic recording equipment for various purposes including ensuring that livestock are handled humanely, that good commercial practices are followed, monitoring product inventory, or conducting establishment security. Records from video or other electronic monitoring or recording equipment may also be used to meet FSIS’ record-keeping requirements.

The draft guidance can be found at: