Uruguay's Agriculture and Livestock Minister Fernando Mattos explained during the weekend that in addition to a batch of Uruguayan beef turned down by China at the port of destination for containing excessive amounts of fat, a similar case had been detected in the port of Montevideo, which was ready to be shipped.
The second batch had been found after Mattos had ordered an enquiry earlier this month on beef shipments from the Frigorífico Rosario processing plant which had already failed to meet the required quality standards.
We confirmed that non-compliant merchandise, which was detected in China, was also found here in Montevideo, said Minister Fernando Mattos at a press conference at Expo Melo in Cerro Largo this weekend.
The Ministry is responsible for the company, which has to apply the hygienic-sanitary controls of the merchandise and commercial compliance, Mattos explained. Then the burden falls on the plant's veterinary inspectors, and then on the Government's office in charge of the issuance of the export permits.
Mattos launched an internal enquiry to determine whether the failure was due to an error by the plant workers or by the Ministry. For the time being, the official signing the permits has been relieved from his duties pending the outcome of the investigation, during which time he shall be banned from signing any further such documents, although he will remain in office.
Mattos had announced Oct. 1 that Frigorifico Rosario's export permit had been temporarily suspended by the General Administration of Customs and Sanitary Services of China due to a discrepancy with the definition of the authorized product. The decision had been made. China understood that the shipment contained high levels of fat in about 4,000 kilos of meat, which resulted in some 320 Uruguayan workers now living on unemployment cheques while Uruguayan and Chinese authorities are negotiating to overcome this situation.
Mattos claimed the Rosario case was “an isolated episode and does not mean loss of confidence.”
During his speech at the premises of the Sociedad Agropecuaria, Mattos said that although the agricultural market is going through a moment of favourable prices, we must think about the situation in the country. He added that the current government had received a country that was not in the best conditions and today there are consequences of those economic policies.