Brazilian president defends meat processors amid rotten meat scandal

Brazil rotten meat export

Brazil meat packers accused of exporting rotten beef

China has suspended meat imports from Brazil over its rotten meat scandal while the European Union has called for a partial ban, deepening the crisis in the world's biggest beef and poultry-exporting nation.

The China Meat Association is collecting information from individual companies about their purchases from Brazil and any potential losses they may have, Zhao Anli, an official at the group's import and export sub-branch, said on Monday.

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. But it has no plans to close its market to Brazilian meat, the South Korean embassy in Brasilia said.

Shortly after, the Brazilian government said it had complied, halting exports by all 21 meat processors under investigation.

Federal authorities said that an investigation unveiled Friday showed about 40 companies, including JBS SA and BRF SA, had been involved in illicit activities such as bribing inspectors to approve the sale and export of spoiled meat and adding chemical substances to mask the poor quality.

On Friday, federal police raided meat-producing plants and arrested more than 30 people.

The two-year probe, known as Operation Weak Flesh, found evidence that meatpackers paid off inspectors and politicians to overlook practices including processing rotten meat and shipping exports with traces of salmonella, police said.
JBS is trying to sell shares in the US and expand in what's proving to be its most lucrative market, while BRF is pursuing a sale of shares in its halal unit - a plan already in doubt after the company posted a record quarterly loss. JBS's media office said it was unaware of any detention and denied that police raided the company's São Paulo-based headquarters.

It has also been reported by Reuters that Chile has taken the decision to ban beef imports from Brazil.

Credit Suisse Securities analyst Victor Saragiotto wrote in a note to clients yesterday that the scandal "could be enough to compromise temporarily Brazilian protein's acceptance worldwide".

Brazil exported US$6.9 billion (S$9.64 billion) of poultry and US$5.5 billion of beef worldwide previous year, according to industry groups.

Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with principal markets also including Japan, Saudi Arabia and Russian Federation.

"I think that it's going to be beneficial because you have the likes of China and South Korea suspending beef imports from Brazil", Williams told the Herald.

Also on Monday, the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, called on Brazil to immediately halt exports by four companies implicated in the scandal, the bloc's spokesman Enrico Brivio said in Brussels.

"If a scandal, such as the one in Brazil, was revealed in the European Union it would be a disgrace", he said.

Meanwhile, Brazil has tried to reassure the world that its huge meat industry poses no threat.

Nineteen of the 33 envoys who met him accepted the offer. But he insisted that the bad meat and faked certificates occurred in only "very few businesses" and did not represent a wider problem.

"The Brazilian government reiterates its confidence in the quality of a national product that has won over consumers and obtained the approval of the most rigorous markets", said Mr Temer.

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".

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