The move follows reports from Brazilian authorities that several major meat processors in that country have been “selling rotten beef and poultry”.
The companies that are said to be involved have also been alleged to have paid significant bribes to auditors in exchange for fraudulent sanitary licences.
The implicated companies are all large-scale corned beef producers, and Brazil reportedly has by far the lion’s share of the local corned beef market.
Arising from the developments in Brazil, Karl Samuda, the Jamaican Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, called an emergency meeting on Monday at the ministry’s Hope Gardens offices, where he cited the importance of safeguarding the welfare of consumers locally.
Officials from the Agriculture Ministry, the Ministry of Health, the Consumer Affairs Commission, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the National Compliance Regulatory Authority, and the Jamaica Customs Agency, were all in attendance at the meeting.
Additionally, the Agriculture Ministry has called a meeting with major local food distributors and importers of corned beef.
Out of the emergency meeting, as a public health safety measure, the following decisions were taken with immediate effect.
- A temporary hold will be placed on all permits for the importation of corned beef from Brazil.
- As a precautionary measure, all imported corned beef that is currently on the shelves will be withdrawn.
- The National Food Recall Committee will meet immediately to determine the next steps and inform when it will be safe to consume the product.
This is while the Bureau of Standards Jamaica will conduct chemical test profiles to establish the quality of the contents of corned beef on the market, and the Veterinary Services Division of the Ministry of Agriculture will conduct microbiological and residue tests to ascertain whether contaminants are present in the products that are on the local market.
Consumers in general are also being cautioned not to consume corned beef until further notice.