China slaps ban on Brazilian meat exports over processing 'scandal'

Owen Stevens
March 21, 2017

The Brazilian Beef Exporters Association (ABIEC) said none of its 29 member companies' beef plants have been named in the adulterated meat products scandal.

The president said that only 33 of the 11,000 inspectors at the agriculture ministry were being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to overlook meatpackers using chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meat.

Temer also said that "all the meat packing plants that produce for export are open to be inspected by exporting countries and can be visited by the national control system, which is one of the most respected in the world".

A few hours later, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said China had suspended the unloading of Brazilian meats in Chinese ports.

The announcements came despite a flurry of meetings that Brazilian President Michel Temer held with ambassadors and numerous assurances from the government that Brazilian meats in general are safe.

The proposed trade deal between Europe and Mercosur, the trading bloc which includes Brazil and Argentina, had been expected to include a more preferential tariff regime for beef imports from Mercosur countries.

The BRF executive, Roney Nogueira dos Santos, was arrested along with two other employees as well as another two JBS officials.

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.

Brazil's president has played down a corruption scandal that's tarnished its valuable meat industry. Among those companies under investigations are meat giants JBS and BRF.

A temporary ban on the sales of BRF (SA) chicken products in South Korea has also been announced today, in the aftermath of the scandal.

The commission said the scandal would have no impact on negotiations between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur about agreements on free trade.

Meeting ambassadors, Temer had the daunting mission of calming the scandal, which was threatening the reputation of the world's biggest exporter of beef and poultry.

European farmers' body, Copa, said the scandal underlined the importance of ensuring that imports of meat from South America met the EU's high safety and traceability standards.

He said the reports from Brazil would indicate that basic requirements around traceability and food safety are still not being met in Brazil. But he insisted that the bad meat and faked certificates occurred in only "very few businesses" and did not represent a wider problem.

Last year, 853,000 consignments of animal products were exported, he said, yet "just 184 of them were deemed by importers to be in violation".

Other reports by VgToday

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