Brazil suspends three more meat plants in bribery scandal

The ministry had announced its decision to delay imports of meat and poultry products from Brazil after the Brazilian authorities suspended 33 government officials from work in a wide-scale crackdown on charges of selling rotten processed meat and poultry.

The EU had already suspended imports from four Brazilian meat processing facilities earlier.

The European Union has maintained a partial ban on products from the 21 meatpacking plants under investigation, which are now barred from exporting.

IFA National Livestock Chairman Angus Woods has met with Irish MEPs, senior officials in the EU Commission in DG Sante, DG Agriculture, Commissioner Hogan's cabinet and COPA, to reiterate the IFA call for a ban on Brazilian meat imports.

Only one is authorized to export directly to mainland China - the plant operated by Seara Alimentos Ltda, which is owned by Brazil's JBS SA, the world's biggest meatpacking company. Hong Kong's restrictions on Brazilian meat remain in place.

The European Union and South Korea are temporarily halting imports from the investigated processing units.

All three plants ordered closed on Monday are in Parana state, where the scandal has been centred.

China, including Hong Kong, is the biggest export market for Brazilian meat, buying about a third of the $5.5 billion of beef shipped from Latin America's largest economy a year ago, according to the meat exporters' group Abiec.

The investigation hit hard at one of the few strong sectors in Brazil's economy, which is experiencing its worst recession on record.

Mr Temer said the plants under scrutiny represented a tiny proportion of Brazil's meat industry.

The EU's health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis met with Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi on Tuesday.

"On [the BAI's part], all meat and meat-product imports coming from Brazil, especially those from the sole meat plant accredited by the government, will undergo 100-percent laboratory testing", BAI Assistant Director Simeon S. Amurao Jr. told the BusinessMirror in an interview. The news was hailed by Brazilian authorities as a "categorical statement of the quality of the Brazilian sanitary (inspections) system". Government data showed that beef imports reached 18,524.966 MT, 69.04 percent higher than the 2015 record of 10,959.168 MT.

"It is not acceptable to have these kind of fraud cases emerging where export certificates have been falsified for 10 years or more and veterinary requirements not complied with, " said Copa and Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen. Brazil's overall meat exports generate almost $14 billion annually, and any drop in foreign shipments could stir new headwinds for the country's recession-hit economy.

  • Zachary Reyes