Vigilant EU to suspend imports involved in Brazil meat scandal

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The fallout from Brazil's rotten meat scandal accelerated Monday when China, a huge market, suspended imports and the European Union demanded a partial ban.

The president minimized the investigation, saying that only 33 of the 11,000 inspectors at the Agriculture Ministry are being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to overlook meatpackers using chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meat.

In a major operation last Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants and accused some major meatpacking companies of widespread bribery of health inspectors to hide unsanitary conditions.

Among them are JBS, the world's largest beef exporter, and BRF, the world's top poultry producer.

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi will meet foreign ambassadors on Monday to reassure them and try to prevent sanctions being issued against Brazilian meat exporters.

"AVA is also working with our meat importers to monitor the situation and to be prepared to ramp up alternative sources, if necessary", it said.

"This standard of excellence is that over time has opened the doors of more than 150 countries, with permanent audit, monitoring and risk assessment", said President Temer during the meeting with ambassadors. According to ABPA's Santin, the Asian nation will increase its vigilance on Brazil imports, raising the share of products analyzed to 15 percent from 1 percent.

"The commission will ensure that any of the establishments implicated in the fraud are suspended from exporting to the EU", a spokesman for the European Commission told a media briefing.

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Among the 21 slaughterhouses involved, only six exported meat in the past two months.

An NTUC FairPrice spokesman said it is aware of ongoing investigations into BRF, which owns the Sadia and Perdigao brands, and JBS, owner of Big Frango and Swift brands, which supplies poultry products to NTUC FairPrice as well as other retailers.

In his address to the ambassadors, Mr Temer acknowledged that the scandal had generated "major concern".

According to investigators the meat companies had significant influence over the Agricultural Ministry and were thus able to pick the inspectors who visited their plants.

Mr Chung Suan Lim, former president of association, said 57 per cent of frozen beef in Singapore comes from Brazil and there have been "no problems so far".

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.

JBS said: "The company vehemently repudiates any adoption of practices related to the adulteration of products".

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