The recent Brazilian meat scandal was raised today in the European Parliament by the Chairman of the European Parliament’s agriculture committee Czeslaw Siekierski. A plenary session was held in Salzburg this afternoon to determine ‘how the Brazilian revelations will impact ongoing trade talks with Mercosur countries?’ and whether or not the meat will be removed from the trade agenda?
The IFA is actively working on having the meat removed from the EU’s proposed trade deal with Mercosur, the South American trading bloc, which includes Brazil. They have been lobbying strongly on this issue in Brussels over the past two weeks.
Angus Woods, IFA’s National Livestock Chairman said the EU Commission has confirmed that none of the 21 establishments directly involved in the weak flesh scandal is now exporting to the EU. Exporting has been suspended as a result of an investigation into bribing health officials to skip inspections and overlook practices including processing unhealthy meat.
“In addition, the EU has introduced reinforced checks at points of import involving 100% physical checks and 20% microbiological checks on all Brazil meat shipments into the EU”, explains Mr. Woods to the Independent.
Over 100 Brazilians, primarily inspectors have been accused of taking bribes in exchange for not reporting the production of the rotten meat, failing to inspect meat-packing plants and falsifying export documents.
The EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis met with the Brazilian Minister of Agriculture Blairo Maggi in Brazil last week over the weak flesh meat scandal and emphasised ‘how it did not help the Brazilian authorities to try to downplay the seriousness of the issue’.
The controversy has caused a huge stir in the Brazilian beef and chicken industry for accusations of rotten beef and chicken packed with potato and sometimes cardboard. One of the largest exporters JBS along with a number of smaller exporters have been brought into the limelight as a result of recent investigations.
The IFA Livestock Leader said the Brazilian weak flesh scandal is a major lesson for the EU Commission in terms of allowing imports from countries, which fail to meet EU standards.
“It is clear from the weak flesh scandal that the production systems in Brazil fail to meet EU standards and as a result meat imports from Brazil should not be accepted into the EU.”
Mr. Wood said the Brazilian scandal should be regarded as a major setback for Mercosur talks and further access for Brazilian exports to the EU.
During Mr. Andriukaitis meeting with Brazil’s agriculture minister, he hinted that the current restrictions and stepped-up checks on Brazilian meat imports were unlikely to be removed anytime soon. “The situation of meat imports from Brazil will remain under these reinforced checks until Brazil answers our questions and after our forthcoming audit team visits Brazil”, explains Mr. Andriukaitis.
“The situation will be much clearer in a few weeks or months. The main message to Brazil is that this issue is not closed. It is about health and quality”.