Photo: The Honourable Eugene Hamilton, the minister of agriculture, human settlement, cooperatives and environment
Risk assessments on Brazilian pork suggested
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The minister of agriculture, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton, disclosed in Parliament Aug. 10 that the chief veterinary officer has recommended a risk assessment be done on pork from specific farms in Santa Catarina, Brazil.
“Mr. Speaker, over the past week or two, concerns were expressed to the Ministry of Agriculture by the importers of pork from Brazil,” said Hamilton. “The concern was that the restriction of pork importation from Brazil was not lifted, despite the fact that the restriction on beef and poultry were lifted. The concern, Mr. Speaker, prompted a meeting; a meeting where representatives of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC) were present…representatives of the Ministry of Trade present, Ministry of Agriculture and a representative of the cabinet.”
He said that the meeting resulted in his ministry agreeing to follow through urgently on obtaining a risk assessment from several competent authorities, including those in the United States of America, as well as the Inter-American Institute of Cooperation on Agriculture, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, among others, on pork imported from Brazil He explained that members of the CIC agreed to supply his ministry with their specific suppliers in Brazil so that the assessment could be targeted and be less costly.
“Brazil has some animal diseases, [for] example, Foot and Mouth Disease and Classical Swine Fever,” he said. “They have high economic and socio-impacts on animal production systems and, along with the increasing prevalence of food-borne diseases globally, a risk assessment on the importation of frozen meat from Brazil would be necessary to prevent…the animal diseases of concern. The diseases identified can survive in partially cooked meat, frozen meat and bone marrow long enough to be imported into the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The agriculture minister said that Santa Catarina is bordered by provinces that are free from Foot and Mouth Disease with vaccination, however, there is no guarantee that the disease does not exist in those bordering provinces because the vaccination will not prevent exposure of the disease if it is present. “It will only prevent clinical infection of susceptible animals, therefore, there is a risk that [Foot and Mouth Disease] and [Classical Swine Fever] can be exported to us if the checks and balances are compromised,” he said. “[This] is the fundamental reason why the chief veterinary officer is saying, look, let us have an assessment.”
Once the assessment is completed and is satisfactory, local importers will be able to resume their trade with the suppliers in Brazil, according to the minister.
Meanwhile, Hamilton said that his ministry noted “that as a result of the restrictions, some [people] have resorted[ing] to import[ing] pork from St. Maarten; however, such [proplr] are advised that no license would be issued to import such pork if they originate in Brazil.”