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Make a Statement

Written by Dennis Sun

Earlier this month, Brazilian investigators found that some meatpacking houses had bribed health inspectors to overlook the sale of expired meats. The expired meat’s appearance and smell was improved or hidden by using chemicals and cheaper products, like water and manioc flour.

While only three meatpacking plants have been shut down so far out of some 4,000 plants in Brazil, 21 plants are being probed, and 33 employees are still under investigation. Police have accused more than 100 people, mostly health inspectors, of taking bribes for allowing the sale of rancid products. The operation targeting Brazilian meatpackers resulted from a two-year investigation that culminated in raids on processing plants and company offices in seven Brazilian states. So, it’s hard to tell for how long this illegal practice has been going on.

Hong Kong has temporarily suspended imports of frozen or chilled meat and poultry from Brazil, starting immediately. The European Union and Chile both have halted some meat imports from Brazil and China has stopped the unloading of sea containers of Brazilian meat in their ports. China and Hong Kong are the largest importers of Brazilian meat.

So far, America hasn’t reacted, but U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (R) from Montana has announced legislation to “temporarily ban the importation of Brazilian beef to protect American consumers from eating rotten meat.” That sentence came from his press release. One can tell the Senator is from a beef-producing state, can’t you?

Good for Sen. Tester. He stepped up to address the issue. The U.S. now allows Brazilian beef into our country, despite their foot-and-mouth disease issue. Now we’re seeing food inspection problems. That’s not smart.

Brazil is already involving federal police and prosecutors investigating a massive corruption scandal involving billions of dollars in political kickbacks made by construction giants to win contracts with state controlled forms. The Brazilian beef industry exports around $5.5 billion of beef last year. It is an easy target.

Why is America even dealing with Brazilian beef? With our meat inspectors, we know America has a safe product in pork, lamb and beef – what a selling point for the U.S. Meat Export Federation to use. We are proud of our meat. Brazil’s meat issues are American beef producers’ opportunity.

Closer to home, the Wyoming Legislature needs to be sure to fund our meat inspectors that operate out of the Consumer Health Services of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. There are around 80 meat plants in Wyoming. The meat processed in a state-inspected plant can be sold to any stores or individuals within the state but not outside of the state. There is one plant in Cody that is trying to get United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors, but Wyoming has none at this time.

These state-employed meat inspectors ensure that Wyoming’s meat processed at one of these plants is safe – as safe as America’s meat, born, raised, fed and processed in America.

We stand behind it.