Bad news spreads like wildfire. The burst of the alleged fraud of Brazilian meat companies, brought to light corruption in meat inspection. But in my view, it also brought to light the fragility of the beleaguered agri-food industry and the rigidity with which what is published is accepted as absolute truth, regardless of the source.
I think it's time we hear what JBS and BRF have to say, just published in separate press releases in their websites.
For me, there are some key points which are listed below:
- International certifications: BRF says that the Mineiros plant, already vetoed by the government, was enabled by countries as demanding as Canada, the European Union, Russia and Japan. Additionally, BRF also has international health certificates, namely BRC (Global Standard for Food Safety), IFS (International Food Standard) and ALO Free (Agricultural Labeling Ordinance). Additionally, the same Ministry of Agriculture of Brazil just completed an audit to this same plant less than a month ago.
Meanwhile, JBS points out that it exports to over 150 countries including the U.S., Germany and Japan. Its plants have 340 annual audits by international health missions and customers. It also has certification from the BRC (British Retail Consortium), a global benchmark in the quality of protein production.
I think these are many and varied authorities, as to place in doubt so many judges of their ability to assess the quality of a product.
- Product contamination: media reports mentioned Salmonella, inclusion of lower quality products, and inclusion of cardboard or rotten meat; Too many things at once.
- Salmonella: Salmonella is ubiquitous in the world and there are many types of it. BRF clarified that the European Union prohibits chicken with Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium. However, Salmonella saintpaul was the one found in some batches of the four containers shipped to Italy, a Salmonella tolerated by European legislation. Why then, did they ban the entry of chicken?
- Inclusion of lower quality products: It is surprising that various things were mentioned, like pig heads, along with chicken and soy! Do we really think chicken and soy are lower quality products? If a beef product contains chicken and soy, and is not declared on the label, then it is a labeling problem, not an inferior quality problem.
- Cardboard: According to BRF, this was a misinterpretation of an audio in which a worker spoke of the packing material. It would seem that we will have to speak in legal contract text, repeating all a thousand times ad nauseum, to make it clear.
- Rotten flesh: I find published information about this somewhat unspecific and tendentious. I put into question the practicality of using rotten meat.
So, why didn't it surface until now about irregularities on 234 units of JBS and in 54 BRF plants that had never been mentioned before? Again, 234 and 54.
They have condemned an entire country and its entire animal protein industry, perhaps with little reason. What do you think?