Brazilian authorities raided meat-producing plants in six Brazilian states on Friday (March 17), after allegations of selling rotting meat and corruption. Three slaughterhouses were closed, 21 plants were placed under government inspection, and 33 government officials were suspended over corruption claims.
Some factory managers were accused of bribing politicians and health inspectors to secure food safety approval for exports in meat that weren’t checked for hygiene standards, it was alleged.
A number of unhygienic practices
More than 30 companies – including multinational meat giants JBS and BRF – were targeted in the raids. But both companies insisted they had done nothing wrong.
According to a statement on BRF’s website: “BRF reiterates that all measures taken by the company and its technicians are fully in accordance with the highest levels of governance and compliance, and in no way undermine any ethical or legal precept of Brazil and the countries for which BRF exports its products.”
Meanwhile, the claims revealed how important it was to secure a safe source of food in the UK, said NFU president Meurig Raymond. “News that the world’s largest red meat exporter could be involved in exporting rotten meat shows how important it is to have a secure and safe source of food in the UK.
‘Secure and safe source of food’
Britain has one of the safest and most traceable food systems in the world and trade deals after Brexit should not be allowed to compromise those standards, he added. “Trade agreements with countries across the globe must be balanced – with the same conditions applying to food imports and exports,” said Raymond.
“Protecting the standards adhered to by British farmers and the transparency across the supply chain is essential for the public who want to buy safe and traceable food.”
Nearly 90% of shoppers wanted to buy more British produce, according to the NFU. This demand could be met by British farmers, but any trade deal after Brexit must make sure farming can be productive, competitive and productive, said the NFU.
European farmers’ union Copa-Cogeca agreed the allegations underlined the importance of ensuring that imports to the EU met EU safety standards and that animal traceability requirements were in place.
Its secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “We need fair and balanced deals on agriculture in any trade agreement. We have some of the highest food safety and animal welfare standards in the world which imports to the EU must meet, otherwise our safety standards will be compromised.”