Brazil meat scandal deepens as China and European Union halt some imports

Ivan Schwartz
March 21, 2017

Brazil's President Michel Temer has sought to reassure foreign trade partners that the corruption scandal engulfing the country's meat industry does not mean its products are unsafe.

The president minimized the investigation, saying that only 33 of the 11,000 inspectors at the Agriculture Ministry are being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to overlook meatpackers using chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meat.

A scandal over alleged bribery by meatpackers to allow the sale of expired meat in Brazil deepened Monday as the European Union, China and Chile chose to halt some meat imports from Latin America's largest nation.

Brazil, one of the world's largest exporters of meat, would be hit hard by any form of ban.

The EU "will guarantee that any of the establishments involved in the fraud will be suspended", said Brivio, who didn't cite companies by name or say how long the ban would last.

China, which with Hong Kong is Brazil's biggest meat export market, said it needed to know more about the allegations that major meatpacking businesses bribed inspectors to get health certificates and masked tainted meat as fit for consumption.

Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with principal markets as far apart as Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy. The bloc has suspended imports from four Brazil plants including one owned by BRF, Ricardo Santin, a director at the Brazilian Association of Animal Proteins, or ABPA, told journalists in Sao Paulo.

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Temer ended his address by stating that of the 853,000 shipments of meat exported from Brazil previous year, only 184 were considered "noncompliant" by importers - and these referred to problems regarding the labels or certificates and never the product's quality.

TODAY has reached out to AVA, other major supermarket chains as well as meat importers for comments.

The scandal came at a time when Brazil is struggling to exit its worst recession in history.

He said the reports from Brazil would indicate that basic requirements around traceability and food safety are still not being met in Brazil. "We cannot accept that the great majority of the companies and servers that make up this great business that is Brazilian agriculture are put in check by few people", Maggi told the foreign representatives.

There were worries, though, that the recent revelations could hurt attempts to negotiate a trade deal between South America's Mercosur group and the European Union. Of the 21 plants investigated, only six were eligible for export, or had exported product in the last 60 days.

China, the European Union and the US had already requested the Ministry of Agriculture for explanations on Friday, March 17.

Other reports by GizPress

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