A Brazilian meat executive caused a stir Nov. 28 when he told Reuters that his company Minerva, SA is getting ready to resume exports of fresh beef to the U.S. as early as the first quarter of 2018.
USDA officials, however, have dismissed the idea as “inaccurate” and stated again that they have never given a time frame for when the ban would be lifted. USDA suspended imports on June 22, when a government audit discovered food safety deficiencies in the wake of Brazil’s inspection scandal.
In an interview Friday (Dec. 1), Carmen Rottenberg, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s acting deputy undersecretary, told IEG Policy that USDA is still waiting for Brazilian authorities to provide information on how they’ve resolved concerns that caused the ban to be imposed in the first place.
“Nothing has changed,” Rottenberg said. “The ball is really in Brazil’s court to provide us with information that we’ve requested. We have had back and forth with Brazil and they’ve provided us with some information and we’ve asked for additional information. But the notion that we’ve given them some sort of a timeline, is completely inaccurate.”
According to Rottenberg, at this time it is not possible to estimate when the ban may be lifted, because even when Brazil provides the additional information, the agency will likely still have to conduct a verification audit.
“There is a process here and we are following that process and basing our decision on science,” Rottenberg added.
Rottenberg’s comments come in a response to a Nov. 28 report by Reuters, in which the CEO of Minerva SA, Fernando Galletti, indicated that the company expects to resume fresh beef imports to the United States in the first quarter of 2018.
“This is the expectation we are hearing from the Agriculture Ministry,” Galletti said, according to Reuters.
This is not the first time that Brazilian officials have given overly optimistic estimates about when the suspension would be lifted.