WINNIPEG, Manitoba, June 28 (Reuters) - Canada has stepped up inspections on imported meat from Brazil to temporarily check every shipment following a corruption investigation involving Brazil’s health inspectors, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said.
The new protocols, which started on April 10, involve full inspection of all Brazilian meat imports on five consecutive shipments from each approved plant and for each product category, CFIA spokeswoman Maria Kubacki said.
Canada is a small buyer of Brazilian beef, importing C$21 million ($16.1 million) worth of its beef and veal last year, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Full inspections by Canada include analysis for pathogens in ready-to-eat meat products, chemical residue testing and further analysis of containers used for canned meats.
Previously, CFIA conducted one full inspection randomly out of 10 consecutive shipments from each specific Brazilian establishment. The other nine shipments were visually inspected.
Brazilian police raided the premises of global meatpacking companies JBS SA and BRF SA in March, as well as dozens of smaller rivals, over suspected bribery of health officials..
The United States last week banned imports of fresh Brazilian beef after a high percentage of shipments failed safety checks.
Canada has rejected six shipments of Brazilian beef out of 191 meat shipments since April 10, according to CFIA. It blocked imports in May from one JBS plant in Brazil that did not meet food safety requirements, and delisted two others in March.
The rejected shipments had metal can defects which could lead to spoilage.
The U.S. ban on fresh Brazilian beef imports will not likely create much opportunity for Canadian beef shippers selling to their neighboring country, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of Canadian Cattlemen’s Association. Brazilian fresh beef is more similar to that produced by Australia and New Zealand, where cattle are raised mostly on grass, than Canadian beef, he said. ($1 = 1.3088 Canadian dollars (Reporting by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg, Manitoba; editing by Grant McCool)