After two decades, the European Union (EU) and the four core Mercosur nations—Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay—concluded negotiations for a trade agreement in Brussels in June 2019. Now, the agreement—officially known as the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement—is set to be conditional upon animal welfare requirements for the first time.
According to The Guardian, eggs imported from the Mercosur nations to EU member states will only be duty-free if the hens are kept in line with EU standards under the provisional terms of the new trade agreement. Since 2012, EU farmers are not allowed to keep hens in barren battery cages. Previous EU free trade deals have included aspirational provisions on animal welfare, but this is the first time the elimination of tariffs have been conditional upon particular standards being upheld.
Campaigning organization Eurogroup for Animals welcomed the condition. “This is an important turning point in EU trade policy and an approach we would like to see extended to other animal-based products, either using species specific standards when available, or at least all relevant horizontal standards such as these on transport, which at the moment do not apply to animals transported strictly within third countries,” said Reineke Hameleers, director of Eurogroup for Animals. The group remains in opposition to the Mercosur deal because there is not a similar prerequisite for beef and chicken meat and egg product imports and called for the approach to be extended.
Both sides are now preparing the final version of the trade agreement, the largest the EU has ever struck in terms of tariff reduction, before it is submitted to EU member states and the EU parliament for approval.
The FDA is extending the comment period for the third installment of the draft guidance designed to support compliance with the Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration (IA) rule under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
While most food production and supply chains have been resilient during the pandemic, there are FDA-regulated food establishments that have closed temporarily or face challenges that could lead to closures because of COVID-19.
According to The Washington Post, coronavirus outbreaks at meatpacking plants across the United States have forced temporary closures and resulted in a backlog of hundreds of thousands of animals that were ready to be slaughtered weeks ago but increasingly have nowhere to go.
The FDA has announced that it will provide flexibility regarding eligibility criteria for the qualified exemption under the Produce Safety Rule during the COVID-19 public health emergency.