Australia

American consumer group demands USDA protection from Australian meat

By Andrew Schreiber

- Last updated on GMT

American consumer group demands USDA protection from Australian meat

Related tags: European union

A consumer rights group in the US has called on its country’s regulators to review and possibly revoke Australia’s meat inspection process, calling it an inherently flawed system.

In a letter to the US Department of Agriculture, Food & Water Watch has called for the regulator to revoke equivalency status of the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (Aemis). The USDA had reaffirmed Australia's equivalency status in 2011.

But according to Food & Water Watch, that equivalency should be taken away after Australia’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) removed government meat inspectors from red meat slaughter lines and allowed company employees to assume those duties.

In its letter, Food & Water Watch claimed that ever since Australia implemented Aemis, USDA import inspectors have detected “an ever-increasing number of zero-tolerance violations for visible fecal and other meat containments in Australian meat shipments.”

Food & Water Watch also said meat companies in Australia are abandoning Aemis, and that the European Union flagged problems with the system.

“Although the European Union has flagged definite problems in allowing meat companies to police their own inspection systems, the USDA has yet to speak out about this very obvious conflict of interest,”​ said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, in a statement.

“Yet if the result of a privatised meat inspection system in Australia is food that is unsafe to eat, the United States owes it to consumers to revoke the equivalency determination for Aemis.”

Hauter was referring to an audit carried out by officials with EU’s Food and Veterinary Office of  Aemis in October 2012.

In a final report, FVO said the control of the whole production chain of fresh meat from domestic animals and wild game meat intended for export to the EU was satisfactory “with the exception of the concept introduced by the Aemis”.

“The Aemis inspection system implemented by the [Department of Agriculture] in the export establishments is not in line with the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 854/2004 because the AAOs [Australian government authorised officers] who are directly employed and paid by the FBO [food business operator] cannot be considered as OAs [official auxiliaries] to perform post-mortem inspection.”

Australia is the second-largest exporter of red meat and red meat products to the US, which imported more than 281m kilos of red meat from Australia in 2013, and that figure is expected to increase.

Related topics: Markets, Food safety, Oceania, Meat

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1 comment

you have to be joking!!

Posted by Laurel,

oh yeah?
its NOT AUS that has recalls of mega thousands of tons of tainted meat on a near regular basis..
we dont use BgH and then kill the dairy cows, that those hormones ruined the life of.
or ractopamine or the antibiotics stuffed into em in feedlots along with GMO crud feed.
we are tagged tracked and legislated Far and away beyond anything USA is
theyre still refusing RFID and COOL labelling FFS!
we dont have FMD or mad cow either, brucellosis and TB close to eradictated.
so?
we are supposed to fall over grovelling to sign our rights away for the TPP deals that allow their crap Into Aus?
while they..pull a stunt like this?
we lead the world in making a farmers life a living misery via paperwork and inspections levies and whatever some twerp in canberra gets suckered into thinking sounds good.usually from some yank /septic think tank!!
STFU comes to mind
theyre short of beef and have been buying from us more recently
the cheap scraps for their mince, majority.
odd how WE dont have ecoli and all the rest of the problems they do due to rules n regs on what and how chemicals n quality is allowed into food chain to begin with and all along the process lines.

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