FVO – Bovine meat in Brazil

The report describes the outcome of an audit carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) in Brazil from 15 to 28 October 2013. The objectives of the audit were to evaluate the operation of controls over the production of fresh bovine meat destined for export to the European Union (EU), as well as certification procedures and to follow up the measures taken by the Brazilian authorities to address the recommendations outlined in audit report DG(SANCO)/2012-6370 – MR Final.

The FVO audit team noted that in the period 2012-2013 the Competent Authority (CA) carried out 10 % or more re-audits of the cattle holdings listed in TRACES in all approved Brazilian States. With the exception of three cases, controls carried out at the holding by the certificadoras and the CA were found to be satisfactory. However, the need to strengthen the procedures in place was identified by the FVO audit team. The Brazilian CA informed the FVO audit team that the procedure to integrate different IT applications into a single database to include animal health control, animal identification and registration, animal movement and certification, has progressed significantly.

The meat establishments visited were mainly in line with the general and specific hygiene requirements.
Deficiencies were identified by the FVO audit team in relation to the de-hiding process in three establishments, the working of sterilisers in two establishments and pest control in one establishment. The official controls in meat establishments were carried out in accordance with the relevant procedures and adequately documented. Nevertheless the deficiencies mentioned above had not been identified by the Food Business Operator (FBO) or the CA.

Ante- and post-mortem inspection, including the verification of the food chain information were carried out in accordance with the EU requirements.

In the establishments visited the procedures based on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), traceability and maturation of beef were implemented and verified by the CA and were found to be satisfactory.

The microbiological testing of carcasses regarding testing methods, parameters, sampling and sampling frequencies were still not in line with the requirements laid down in Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005. The CA confirmed their position to the FVO audit team and considers their guidelines for microbiological testing of carcasses to be EU equivalent. Nevertheless the CA has not yet sent a request to DG SANCO to have their guidelines recognised as EU equivalent.

Water testing was carried out in line with the requirements of Council Directive 98/83/EC. Animal welfare controls remain as previously described. The stunning process and the controls at slaughter were satisfactory.

The certification of fresh bovine meat in the establishments visited was satisfactory. For the consignments verified by the FVO audit team, the officials were able to demonstrate that the certificate conditions were met, with the exception of one case.

The FVO audit team visited the two establishments which have been at the origin of numerous Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alerts in 2013 due to the presence of Shigatoxin-producing E-coli (STEC) in chilled boneless beef sent to the EU. These two establishments are now under the re-enforced control procedure for their consignments entering the EU. The reaction of the Central Competent Authorities (CCA) was slow and it took more than two months for the establishments to be officially notified. An official answer from the CCA to the Commission services was only sent in October 2013. Meanwhile, the establishments had already started implementing initial actions to address the issue. As new RASFF alerts were notified, the establishments reviewed and further developed their initial action plan. The reviewed action plan has been implemented since mid-October 2013. Since then and up to the date of the on-the-spot visit, no meat produced after this date from these establishments has entered the EU.
In addition to the actions initiated by these two establishments, since 16 September 2013 the CCA is implementing a country wide monitoring programme with the aim of identifying the presence of STEC.

A number of recommendations have been made to the CA with a view to addressing the deficiencies identified during this audit.

Specifically, to consider improving procedures in order to make a proper risk evaluation of Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed alert and to react appropriately and timely to the issues identified.

Written Q&A to EU Commission – Halal Chicken Labelling

Question for written answer E-001661/13
to the Commission
Lucas Hartong (NI)
(18 February 2013)

Subject: Labelling of halal chicken

It was revealed today (1) that the majority of Dutch chicken fillets come from birds slaughtered in a halal manner, i.e. without stunning, even when this is not mentioned on the packaging. I quote: ‘To make things easier, so that the less popular parts of the chicken can be exported to Muslim countries, all chickens are slaughtered in a halal manner.’

1. Is it permissible under EC law (including Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011) for chickens to be slaughtered in a halal manner (i.e. without stunning) when this is not indicated on the label on the packaging?

2. Chickens are slaughtered without stunning in order to count as halal. For that purpose an imam has to be present. Under EU legislation, is an imam certified to carry out the slaughter of animals?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission
(8 April 2013)

The current EU food labelling legislation (2) does not require the information on the religious method used during the animal slaughtering to be provided on the label of meat and meat products. However, in accordance with Recital 50 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 (3) referred to by the Honourable Member, the Commission will perform a study on the opportunity to provide the consumer with information on the stunning of animals in the context of the Union strategy for the protection and welfare of animals adopted in 2012 (4).

halal

 

The qualification for Halal products is not regulated at EU level and it mainly depends on private schemes which vary among the Member States. However, the EU legislation (5) includes the possibility of not stunning animals for religious reasons, the implementation of this derogation being left to the Member States.

 

The most common method for stunning chicken in the EU (multiple waterbath stunning) can be used to deliver reversible stunning. Therefore, slaughter without stunning is not systematically used to produce Halal chicken, depending on the requirements of the Muslim clients.

⋅1∙ http://www.telegraaf.nl/binnenland/21302071/_Alle_kip_halal_geslacht_.html
⋅2∙ Directive 2000/13/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, OJ L 109, 6.5.2000.
⋅3∙ Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, OJ L 304, 22.11.2011.
⋅4∙ COM(2012)6 final.
⋅5∙ Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing, OJ L 303, 18.11.2009.