Contaminated Meat and Govt Bribes: Fresh Scandal Rocks Brazil

Andrew Cummings
March 21, 2017

China, Brazil's top trade partner, made a decision to suspend the import of meat products from Brazil as a "precautionary measure", said a source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

More than 80 per cent of the 107,400 tonnes of chicken imported by South Korea previous year came from Brazil, and nearly half of that was supplied by BRF.

Some of the meat ended up in lunches at public schools, police said at a press conference in Curitiba, Brazil.

While the media reports referenced a number of second and third-tier meat processing and value-adding companies, some of the largest processors in Brazil, included BRF and JBS, have also been accused by media of wrongdoing.

Britain's BBC reported that authorities in Brazil had suspended 30 government officials in response to unsourced allegations that some of the country's biggest meat processors had been "selling rotten beef and poultry for years". Just three of those were shut down by the Ministry of Agriculture - one owned by BRF over salmonella in chicken, and two small further-processing plants owned by independent operators.

"These are absolutely shocking allegations and I am calling on Minister Creed to call an immediate Council of Ministers meeting, with a view to banning all food imports from Brazil into the European Union until this situation is properly investigated and regularised." he said.

"Until it receives more information, China will not unload meat imported from Brazil", the Brazilian agriculture ministry said in a statement.

Brazil's president has played down a corruption scandal that's tarnished its valuable meat industry.

Mr Healy also confirmed he had written to the EU Commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis demanding that the EU insist on European standards for all European imports and to impose a ban where this is not met.

In Temer's address to the ambassadors (only 19 out of 33 took him up on the invitation), the President acknowledged that the scandal had caused "major concern".

The Commission said the scandal would not affect negotiations between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur about agreements on free trade. But he insisted that the bad meat and faked certificates occurred in only "very few businesses" and did not represent a wider problem.

"The government reiterates its trust in the quality of this Brazilian product", Temer said.

He acknowledged, however, that six of the investigated companies exported products within the past year and he promised that the countries receiving those products will be informed in the matter as of Monday.

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