IRISH FARMING BODIES have called for a ban on meat imports from Brazil over claims that corrupt exporters sold tainted products.
Both the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) and the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMA) have said there should be an immediate ban on Brazilian meat imports into the EU in light of the scandal.
News broke on Friday that Brazilian police had found, after a two-year probe, that major meat producers bribed health inspectors to certify tainted food as fit for consumption.
At least 30 people have so far been arrested, with police raiding more than a dozen processing plants and issuing 27 arrest warrants.
A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing plants operated by the local Peccin company were shut down, Brazil’s agriculture ministry said.
The European Commission has urged Brazil to ban four companies implicated in the scandal from exporting their meat to the EU, the bloc’s spokesman Enrico Brivio told reporters in Brussels.
Chile and China have already suspended meat imports from the South American country.
IFA president Joe Healy has written to the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, demanding a complete import ban on Brazilian meat.
The farming body has for years accused Brazil of failing to meet EU quality controls and standards.
“No credible or proper (export) control system can effectively operate on the basis of no traceability, tagging, registration and national data base,” Healy said.
The ICMSA said there should be an immediate ban on Brazilian beef and poultry imports “until some degree of trust and confidence could be restored”.
The body’s president, John Comer, said the allegations are “of the most serious kind and must be treated as an absolute priority”.
He urged for EU standards to be applied to imported poultry and beef.
“There’s no point in operating our own certified farm-to-fork safety policy if we have even a remote possibility of this kind of stuff coming in from Brazil,” he said.
Neither the European Commission nor the Irish Department of Agriculture has made a statement on the issue.
The scandal is threatening Brazil’s reputation as the world’s biggest beef and poultry-exporting nation.
The news broke just days before the start of negotiations to seek a free-trade accord between the European Union and several South American countries including Brazil.
Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with principal markets including Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.
Sales in 2016 reached $5.9 billion in poultry and $4.3 billion in beef, according to government data.
With reporting by Conor McMahon and AFP.