Chile blocks Brazil meat imports over health scare

Countries curtailing Brazilian beef imports due to the tainted food scandal there may have few sources to turn to for securing red meat.
A butcher cuts meat at a butchery stall inside a market in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 18, 2017.
A butcher cuts meat at a butchery stall inside a market in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 18, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SANTIAGO (AFP) - Chile on Monday (March 20) suspended imports of meat from Brazil over claims that corrupt exporters sold tainted products.

The scandal is threatening Brazil's reputation as the world's biggest beef and poultry-exporting nation.

Chile's Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche said on Twitter the government was imposing a "temporary" suspension of meat imports from Brazil.

It said the ban would stay in place until Brazil confirmed that companies exporting meat to Chile had been correctly vetted.

The scandal broke on Friday (March 17) when police said a two-year probe had found major meat producers bribed health inspectors to certify tainted food as fit for consumption.

 

At least 30 people have been arrested, with police raiding more than a dozen processing plants and issuing 27 arrest warrants.

 

A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing plants operated by the local Peccin company were shut down, the agriculture ministry said.

Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with principal markets including Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.

Sales in 2016 reached US$5.9 billion (S$8.2 billion) in poultry and US$4.3 billion in beef, according to Brazilian government data.