China, Canada, Chile, Hong Kong, and the European Union have suspended or banned meat imports from Brazil after federal police raided meat-producing plants and arrested more than 30 people. These producers are accused of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meat. The 30 companies compromised in this scandal include the world’s largest beef exporter and the world’s top poultry producer.
Three meat-packing plants have been closed and another 21 are being investigated for corruption. They are accused of having paid off governmental inspectors to overlook illegal practices including processing rotten meat, shipping exports with traces of salmonella or simply not carrying out inspections of plants.
Police authorities also reported that the producers under investigation used acid and other carcinogen chemicals in large quantities to mask the physical aspect or the smell of rotten meat. Thirty three public employees have been suspended and are awaiting prosecution.
The scandal could be a heavy blow on the country economy which now faces a potential loss of export revenues of about $3.5 billion.
Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with main markets including China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.
In the US, which only started accepting raw-beef imports from Brazil last year, the Department of Agriculture has started testing all raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil for pathogens.