The EU Commission has asked the Brazilian government to stop all meat consignments from companies highlighted in that county’s ‘rotten meat’ scandal with immediate effect.
A Commission spokesperson confirmed that four of the 21 businesses implicated in the affair have EU export accreditation, adding: “There were intensive diplomatic discussions entered into between the EU and Brazilian authorities last weekend.
“The scandal puts a major question mark over Brazil’s ability to put in place an effective food traceability system.”
The spokesperson said that the EU will now ratchet up the number of physical inspections undertaken, where all food imports from Brazil are concerned.
“Fundamentally, this is a food safety issue. But if irregularities are identified courtesy of the physical checks that are carried out, the trade implications for Brazil will be significant,” he added.
Ulster Farmers’ Union president, Barclay Bell, said Brazilian meat imports into Europe should be blocked. This followed allegations of corruption and the sale of sub-standard meat from Brazil.
“I am shocked that Brazilian meat processors allegedly sold this meat, some of which was treated with carcinogenic products. It’s disturbing to hear that this has been happening for some time and that processors may have bribed government officials to secure hygiene certificates for this meat,” said Mr Bell.
The UFU president said this went against everything farmers here work to achieve, in terms of producing meat to the highest quality standards.
“This underlines the importance of consumers putting their trust in food sourced from farms in the UK, produced to world-leading quality and traceability standards,” said Mr Bell. He added that the response by the EU should be an immediate trade ban, to protect consumers while investigations continue.
Meanwhile, the NFU in England and Wales has highlighted the importance of securing trade deals which uphold the high standards of British food production amid allegations that Brazil’s biggest meat processors have been selling rotten beef and poultry for years.
The NFU says that Britain has one of the safest and most traceable food systems of any country in the world. Post-Brexit, it says, it is vital that trade deals which involve importing food products from other countries, such as Brazil, do not undermine this.
NFU President Meurig Raymond said: “Trade is an incredibly important issue for the future of British food in this country and for the people who produce it.
“News that the world’s largest red meat exporter could be involved in exporting rotten meat shows how important it is to have a secure and safe source of food in the UK.”