GraceKennedy Ltd yesterday said it would immediately comply with the temporary ban imposed by the Agriculture Ministry and withdraw its corned beef from T&T shelves.
In the press release, head of corporate communications for the Jamaican firm, Klao Belle-Lewis, said they would withdraw corned beef originating from Brazil from sale “as a precautionary measure until further notice and will be working with its distributors in T&T to do so.”
Belle-Lewis said the company consistently required that its suppliers conform to internationally recognised food safety standards and was ready to lend full support to the local regulators to resolve this issue as quickly as possible.
“Grace Kennedy’s corned beef suppliers in Brazil have consistently qualified for and retained British Retail Consortium standard. Shipments of corned beef from Brazil will continue into Canada and the USA with no regulatory changes at this time. Those countries will continue to implement sampling at their borders, as they have been doing since 2010,” Belle-Lewis said.
As a result of this new issue, the company said a team from Grace Foods has planned an urgent trip to Brazil to meet with suppliers and do further investigations into the concerns raised.
The release staid GraceKennedy has also been working proactively with retailers to pull product from the shelves in the Jamaica market following an advisory issued on March 20 and intends to do the same in all affected markets including the Cayman Islands.
Consumers will also be refunded for Grace Corned Beef returned to any retailer, Belle-Lewis assured.
Meanwhile, CEO of Arima Discount Mart (ADM) Balliram Maharaj yesterday admitted that local importers of meats had millions of dollars invested in Brazil.
His comments came hours after the Ministry of Health ordered a recall of certain meat products imported from Brazil. The ministry took the action on the basis that there were ten local importers of corned beef from Brazil and one importer of chicken nuggets and chicken patties. Eight of these ten importers purchased products from one Brazilian meat processor at the heart of the meat fiasco.
In weighing in one the issue, Maharaj said while he was aware that all import licenses were temporarily suspended, he would wait until an investigation is completed by the Health Ministry.
“I think by tomorrow when the ministry gathers their information we will know what is going on.”
Maharaj said one has to remember that Brazil has 4,700 production factories.
“And only 21 of them were affected. Out of that 21 there were only two corned beef factories. So they have to get the truth about the story,” Maharaj said.
Asked if the banned items were pulled off the shelves of the ADM yesterday, Maharaj said no.
As a holder of a license to import goods, Maharaj said once meats are brought into T&T they is examined.
“So those licenses are issued in advance.”
While the license remains suspended, Maharaj said no businesspeople will be able to able to bring in future imports.
A source told the T&T Guardian that 15 brands of corned beef are sold in supermarkets across the country.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Shaliza Hassanali)