BRASILIA – The European Commission’s top official for health and food security, Vytenis Andriukaitis, announced on Tuesday that Community experts will travel to Brazil to verify the country’s meat control procedures.
The Lithuanian official reported on the upcoming visit after a meeting with Brazilian Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi, with whom he analyzed the concerns that have arisen after the discovery of a conspiracy to adulterate meat products furnished by one of the European Union’s main suppliers.
“The suspicion of corruption is unacceptable, and even more so when it can place the health of consumers at risk, whether in Brazil, or in Europe,” the commissioner told reporters.
However, he said that the European bloc, for the moment, will maintain the restrictions it had imposed on 21 meat processing plants being investigated in Brazil, the export licenses of which – since the scandal erupted – the local authorities have temporarily suspended.
Andriukaitis said that also to be maintained is the recommendation that all EU member states reinforce inspections of meat imported from Brazil, at least until the experts who travel to the country conduct their own audit.
“We’re going to try to send those auditors as soon as possible,” the commissioner said, adding that he held an “open and frank discussion” with Maggi.
He also expressed his desire that “Brazilian authorities ... implement corrective actions to restore the credibility of their official controls as soon as possible.”
The scandal erupted after the discovery that a group of producers had been bribing health officials to get them to authorize the sale of spoiled meat, sparking a serious crisis in Brazil, whose meat products have been restricted by some 20 countries as a result.
In the majority of cases, the embargos have been limited to the 21 meat processing plants under investigation, which Brazilian authorities have said are “isolated” cases unrepresentative of the country’s meat industry as a whole.