Brazilian chicken exporters are expected to defend their product, especially given their food-safety track record, but they really shouldn’t think South Africans are fools (Setting the record straight on Brazil’s chicken exports, April 2).

Francisco Turra, CEO of the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein, delivered a diatribe against “disinformation” and “lies and slander” about Brazilian chicken in the SA media. And then gave a masterclass in just that.

His argument rested on two essential points: that Brazilian chicken is safe; and that no country has banned Brazilian chicken. Simple internet searches show both statements are false.

Brazil, he says, has overcome the “specific problems” that affected some producers. By specific problems he likely means a major food safety scandal — 2016’s “weak flesh” investigation, which found big producers had evaded or falsified food-safety checks. All is now well, he says, and Brazilian authorities guarantee the safety of the product.

To set the record straight, in February a Brazilian producer recalled 450 tonnes of chicken destined for local and export markets because of salmonella contamination. This followed Saudi Arabia’s ban in January of five Brazilian producers for “technical reasons” believed to be salmonella related. This raises the question: what sort of job are Brazilian authorities doing?

No country has stopped importing Brazilian products, he states. To set the record straight: food safety bans last year had a severe impact on Brazil’s chicken export statistics.

He goes further — “there has never been a closure of the EU for Brazilian chicken”. This half-truth hides the fact that 20 producers, including some of Brazil’s biggest, were banned from exporting to the EU, primarily because of salmonella fears. Consignments were still being turned back last August.

With this sort of relationship to facts, no Brazilian guarantee can be believed. SA should ban Brazilian chicken until our authorities are satisfied it is safe. Only a fool would take Brazilian chicken producers at their word.

François Baird
Founder, FairPlay