December 3, 2022

Senator Jon Tester Introduces Bill to Suspend Beef Imports From Brazil

United States Senator Jon Tester (D-Montana) has introduced a bill to suspend beef imports from Brazil after there have been repeated issues with delayed reporting of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), or Mad Cow Disease, in beef products. The legislation would force a systemic review of the beef’s safety before imports could resume.

Senator John Tester Introduces Bill to Suspend Beef Imports From Brazil

Tester said in a statement, “Montanans demand the highest level of safety and certainty in their beef, and Brazilian imports aren’t making the cut. Folks expect their beef to have been rigorously tested against the strictest of standards, and concerns about Brazilian imports not only jeopardize consumer trust, but present a serious risk to Montana producers. We owe it to our domestic producers and consumers to halt Brazilian imports until we can guarantee their beef and reporting standards are making the grade.”

On September 3, 2021, Brazil announced that two cases of atypical BSE were detected in cattle in June 2021. Most countries report these types of cases to the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) immediately. This delay concerns the senator, since he says it is breaking trust with the OIE and global trading partners.

Brazil is designated as a “negligible risk” exporter by the OIE, so the country has preferential market access in the global marketplace. But repeated delays in reporting this disease can suggest an “overly lax food safety regime,” according to Tester’s statement, and raises concerns about reporting of other diseases such as Avian influenza and African Swine Fever.

The bill, which would suspend beef imports from Brazil, would make sure that Brazilian beef is safe to eat before it is imported into the United States. The legislation is supported by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and R-CALF USA.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy is a progressive neurological disorder. The mode of transmission is a prion protein that damages the central nervous system. Humans can contrast a version of BSE called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The prion is not destroyed by heat, so any meat contaminated with this prion cannot be made safe to eat.

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