Inspectors who refused bribes may have been transferred: The Brazilian government will accelerate audits of 21 meatpacking plants as part of a police investigation into alleged corruption and tainted beef. Brazilian police raided the factories last week after a two-year-long investigation into whether companies paid bribes to inspectors to hide unhygienic conditions, and whether rotten meat was subsequently sold. Evidence turned up in the police action shows there was bribery of both health officials and politicians, and officials who could not be bribed allegedly were transferred to other plants. Meatpacking plants under investigation include two major exporting companies, JBS S.A. and BRF. Latin America’s largest meat producer, JBS S.A., purchased Swift Foods Co., the third-largest U.S. processor of beef and pork, in 2007.
Countries that received potentially affected meats include the European Union, Argentina, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Switzerland, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, U.S. and Russia. The EU, China and Chile have temporarily banned some Brazilian imports. Brazil is the world’s largest beef exporter and sends product to more than 130 companies. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last year determined that Brazil’s food safety system governing meat products remains equivalent to that of the United States and that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef could be safely imported from Brazil. Food Safety News reports that meat from some facilities may have reached Wal-Mart Stores and the school lunch program in the United States. The companies have denied any wrongdoing, and authorities have said no cases of death or illness have been linked to the tainted meat investigation. Read more HERE and HERE.
Another dog food recall: Consumer complaints about sick pets have spurred nationwide recalls by WellPet LLC and Blue Buffalo Co. because of potentially excessive levels of beef thyroid hormone in their dog foods. Each company—WellPet LLC of Tewksbury, Mass., and Blue Buffalo Co. of Wilton, Conn.—recalled specific production lots of one flavor of their canned dog food. Thyroid hormone can be introduced into meat through the process of “gullet trimming,” which is the harvest of the neck muscle from the area of the larynx, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. The USDA has prohibited gullet trimmings in beef and pork for human consumption, but gullets and meat trimmed from the area of the larynx are still permitted in pet food. Recalled Blue Buffalo and WellPet dog foods were distributed nationwide through pet specialty and online retailers. READ MORE
Passengers from 10 airports barred from carrying on larger electronic devices: Britain joined the United States on Tuesday in banning passengers traveling from airports in several Muslim-majority countries from bringing laptops, tablets, electronic games and other portable electronic devices on board with them when they fly, the Washington Post reports. Passengers flying to the United States from 10 airports will be allowed only cellphones and smartphones in the passenger cabins, senior Trump administration officials said. Larger electronic items must be checked. The rules took effect early Tuesday morning and airlines will have until 3 a.m. EDT Saturday to implement them or face being barred from flying to the United States, the officials said. Read more HERE and HERE.