The NFU has raised further concern about the systems and controls in place for Brazilian beef despite reports of improvements highlighted by the EU Food and Veterinary Office.

Inspectors from the FVO visited a number of slaughterhouses, cold stores and farm holdings during January and February this year.

The inspection found the general controls for hygiene and traceability in slaughterhouses and cold stores to be satisfactory and noted improvements in the certification system.

But NFU livestock board chairman Alistair Mackintosh said that he still had serious concerns about the safety of Brazilian beef.

“It is clear that there are still problems with animal identification and movement controls and I find it incredible that the EU Commission does not take this issue more seriously.

“The inspectors found instances where animals were not correctly accounted for, non-EU-approved animals were sent to EU-approved slaughterhouses and conflicts of interest existed among the official supervisors.

“Even with these serious problems the report still declares that the procedures in place in Brazil are good enough to comply with the commission’s requirements for import to the EU,” Mr Mackintosh said.

“Our cattle industry has faced ever increasing levels of bureaucracy in relation to livestock and identification controls and food safety measures which we have accepted and complied with in the interests of protecting the consumer and ensuring high animal health status. We want to produce safe, wholesome food and we want healthy animals.

“However, if we are doing this we expect imported products to meet the same standards and we need guarantees that the systems and controls in place will prevent devastating diseases like foot-and-mouth being imported in to the EU.

“The commission must look again at its findings and halt the certification of Brazilian beef farms until the Brazilian authorities can provide convincing evidence that their farms can be relied on to meet EU standards,” he said.