Published: Tue, March 21, 2017
Business | By Patricia Jimenez

Brazil's Temer seeks to calm fears over meat corruption scandal

The Agriculture Ministry said the scandal affects the country's reputations as meat trader.

Meanwhile, Brazil's President, Michel Temer, met foreign diplomats from the EU, China, the U.S. and elsewhere yesterday [Sunday 19 March] to allay concerns over exports following police raids on meatpackers in Brazil on Friday.

Temer's press council immediately sent a note to the newspaper clarifying that "all the meat served on Sunday. were of Brazilian origin". But with the latest meat scandal, Brazil's meat profits may be in danger.

China, which accounted for almost one-third of the Brazilian meatpacking industry's $13.9 billion in exports a year ago, suspended imports of all meat products from Brazil as a precautionary measure.

While some of the substance of the reports now appears to be under question, China's regulatory body, the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine nevertheless yesterday put a hold on all customs clearance and quarantine of Brazilian meat until further notice.

A judge in Brazil has also accused the agriculture ministry of betraying the country as police issued 38 arrest warrants following a clampdown called "Operation Weak Flesh" on Friday (17 March).

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The European Union's spokesman in Brazil says the union is temporarily halting some imports of Brazilian meat amid an investigation into sales of rotten products.

Police named BRF, the world's largest poultry producer, its giant rival JBS SA, and dozens of smaller rivals in a two-year probe into how meatpackers allegedly paid off inspectors and politicians to overlook practices including processing rotten meat and shipping exports with traces of salmonella.

He said all countries importing Brazilian meat are welcome to inspect its slaughterhouses. One Chinese importer is reported to have 160 containers of Brazilian beef on the water.

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.

About 150 countries buy meat from Brazil, with principal markets as widespread as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.

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