Brazil must ‘restore trust’ in meat exports : EU

The European Union’s health commissioner said Monday that Brazil will have to “restore trust” in its meat exports after being hit by a scandal over expired meat being passed off as fresh.

“I expect that (the Brazilian authorities) will understand that it’s up to them to act as soon as possible to restore trust in the official control system,” said health and food safety commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis as he began a visit to Rio de Janeiro.

“I expect good cooperation and mutual understanding. I expect effective solutions,” he told AFP.

Andriukaitis, whose visit was already planned before the scandal broke on March 17, will meet with the Brazilian agriculture minister on Tuesday.

Brazil, the world’s top beef and poultry exporter, has been rocked by investigators’ accusations that 21 meat processing companies used chemicals to hide the smell of rotting meat and bribed health inspectors to pass off their products as safe.

Brazil’s average daily meat exports plunged 19 percent in a week, or $11.7 million, according to the trade ministry.

Several countries have slapped restrictions or suspensions on Brazilian imports, though key markets including China have already reopened their doors, blocking only meat from the plants under investigation.

The EU has also barred imports from the plants in question.

“This kind of crisis always affects people’s trust,” Andriukaitis said.

“The EU has the highest safety standards. We will follow our agenda and our own standards. We have proposed to Brazil to introduce measures that would help to restore trust.”

Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said the EU commissioner’s visit was an important chance for Brazil to offer “clarifications.”

“Our image was very heavily attacked in recent days. The comments overseas were very bad,” he said.

“Our competitors… are taking advantage of this moment of fragility to win clients and market attention.”