Farm Ireland

Saturday 25 November 2017

Brazil traces thousands of containers at sea to check origin of meat

Around 5,000 containers with Brazilian meat are being traced by the Brazilian authorities.
Around 5,000 containers with Brazilian meat are being traced by the Brazilian authorities.
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Brazil is tracing around 5,000 shipping containers that contain meat products, to determine if the meat has come from any factories under investigation.

Brazilian authorities are investigating 21 meat processing plants amid allegations of malpractice by staff in relation to meat quality.

However, the Minister for Agriculture told during an international press conference that there is no question mark over the quality of Brazilian beef, only an investigation into "the behaviour of people".

"We are investigating the behaviour of some public agents involved in the industry. We are not looking at he quality of the product that we consume in Brazil or export abroad."

Minister Blairo Maggi told the briefing that around 5,000 containers are on ships travelling to final destinations in different markets.

"We are tracing every single container to establish if any came from any of the plants mentioned in the investigations and if they have they will be returned."

However, he said that Brazilian authorities hoped that most will follow on to their final destination and make it to that market.

The Brazilian Minister also said that only six companies are authorised to ship beef abroad, and he is confident the Brazilian authorities can trace all the meat that has been shipped.

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All those being inspected they have been suspended from their jobs, he said, and repeated the point that out of the 21 being investigated none are being investigated for quality, but "bureaucratic irregularities possibly made by some staff.

"It is not true that we are looking at the quality of our product, but we are only looking at people."

Today's press briefing for international media, he said, was in response to an over reaction as it was not communicated correctly.

"There were allegations made about quality.

"The investigation is not about the traceability or quality or the product, but the malconduct of some staff."

Exports in Limbo

While he did not confirm how much Brazilian meat currently being shipped is in limbo, numerous international markets have closed to Brazilian meat exports since Friday, after police raided 21 meat processing plants amid allegations of rotten meat being processed and sold.

Brazil is one of the biggest exporters of meat in the world and initial reports say that very little meat was sold this week, compared to the usual daily transactions worth $63m. Some countries, including China has stopped all beef and chicken imports from Brazil, while the US has just de-listed one Brazilian factory and the EU has suspended imports from the plants involved, in the wake of the scandal. 

China and Hong Kong accounted for around one third of Brazil's beef exports.

On Friday, March 17, Brazilian police raided around 30 factories meat processing factories in Brazil, amid the allegations and a number of public servants are suspended.

Companies caught up in the scandal include a number that export to Europe, including JBS - the world's largest exporter of beef. Hong Kong soon followed suit with a ban on Brazilian meat imports.

Police made the raids as part of a two-year probe into how meatpackers allegedly paid off inspectors to overlook practices including processing rotten meat, shipping exports with traces of salmonella and not carrying out plant inspections.

Brazil itself has suspended all exports from the processors involved in the investigation and has moved to provide reassurances to countries that import its meat.


The Department has said that the police operation itself is proof of the transparency and credibility of the existing controls.

Further, Minister Blairo Maggi was pictured yesterday in a supermarket taking meat from shelves for inspection. The Brazilian Department of Agriculture said the move "aims to reassure the population about the safety of the meat consumed by the population".

The Minister sought to reassure consumers about the quality of Brazilian beef and said that the self-imposed embargo, preventing a number of processors from exporting.

"Importing countries can rest easy because they will not receive these products," he said.

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