The number of countries that have either suspended or curtailed imports of meat from Brazil has risen to at least 35, FoodBev understands.
Many of the world’s major economies have taken action after plants belonging to meat companies BRF, JBS and Grupo Peccin were targeted by police. Food inspectors and officials are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking unsanitary factory conditions and potentially contaminated meat.
Specifically, those under investigation are accused of allowing rotten or salmonella-tainted meat to be exported overseas from Brazil.
Now China, Canada, Japan, Mexico and all European Union (EU) member states have either suspended or restricted imports of Brazilian meat in reaction to the corruption probe.
They are joined by neighbours and fellow beef exporters Argentina, which has curtailed imports from the only plant in Brazil that exported meat to the country; as well as Switzerland and Hong Kong, which has banned outright all imported Brazilian meat.
South Korea, which had previously imposed restrictions on meat originating from Brazil, has since lifted its ban.
There is fears inside Brazil that the scandal could do permanent and irreparable damage to the country’s agricultural industry.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that restrictions on imports of Brazilian meat leaves retailers and consumers with fewer options. Australia, Argentina and Canada could help to keep up with demand, it quoted Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics, as saying.
Brazilian agriculture minister Blairo Maggi has suspended export activity at 21 plants across Brazil while investigations continue.
Maggi fears for the continued livelihood of Brazil’s meat industry; the country is currently the world’s most prolific exporter of beef and poultry.
He said a complete ban on the export of Brazilian-reared meat would be a ‘disaster’, and told reporters in Brasilia that he is ‘praying, hoping, working’ so that it does not happen.
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