EU food safety commissioner Markos Kyprianou has promised to take action against imports of Brazilian beef if the next Food and Veterinary Office inspection reveals continued shortcomings in their safety standards.

His promise came during a meeting this week with five of the main UK and Irish farming unions in Brussels, who are concerned at the disease risk of continued trade with Brazil.

An FVO visit last year found evidence of a number of banned animal health products on Brazilian cattle farms, and failings in the country’s traceability systems.

A separate fact-finding mission by the Irish Farmers’ Association last May also found standards and practices on farms that would not be acceptable within the EU.

A joint statement by the five presidents said that, while Brazil had made some improvements, many of the measures demanded by the FVO had still not been implemented.

“Traceability in Brazil is non-existent, foot-and-mouth controls are totally inadequate, and environmental and social exploitation are widespread,” claimed IFA president Padraig Walshe. Residue controls were also lacking and there was an absence of proper border control.

Mr Kyprianou acknowledged that there were some remaining problems and gave a commitment to improve communications and progress individual identification protocols with Brazil.

“We reminded the commissioner that if there was any problem with animal or consumer health as a result of sub-standard imports, it was his responsibility,” said the union leaders’ statement.