Swiss sausages suffer casing shortage under Brazil beef ban
Brazilian beef over concern that the rule will stop production of
one of their best-selling products.
The country's meat industry is running out of a key ingredient for the traditional cervelas sausage that can only be sourced in Brazil. The cervelas is covered in a beef casing, rather than the more commonly used pork variant. Moreover, the properties of the casing are such that they cannot be easily found in beef breeds from outside Brazil. "One of the key characteristics of the sausage is that it is fit for all types of consumption. It can be eaten hot, cold, grilled or in salads," said Balz Horber, director of the Zurich-based Swiss Meat Processors Association (Union Professionelle Suisse de la Viande). "All other beef casings are too large, too fatty or not suitable. The other alternatives we have found are not as good," he told FoodProductionDaily.com. Horber says stocks have not been replenished since April 2006 when the EU authorities banned import of the casing over concerns it may be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, or BSE. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it is party to many of its trade rules. "We now realize that stocks could be exhausted by the end of the year," he said. To prevent a crisis, the country's meat processors' association has formed a special lobby group, called the 'Task Force Cervelas', made up of representatives from the casings industry, veterinarians, scientists and policy makers. They are aiming to win at least a temporary lifting of the ban by providing evidence that refutes any risk associated with Brazilian beef casings. "We're trying to show in a risk assessment that when we buy our beef casings, they are not subject to any risk," said Horber. Others in the meat industry will not be keen to see the ban lifted however. Farmers in the UK and Ireland have been pushing for further restrictions on Brazil as they say the country does not have sufficient food safety systems in place. Other sausages commonly eaten in Switzerland are not affected by the ban but the cervelas accounts for about 30 per cent of total sausage production in the small country, with the Swiss consuming some 25,000 tonnes per year or around 160 million cervelas sausages.