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PostPosted: Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:47 pm 
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Brazil meat exports collapse in wake of inspection scandal
By SARAH DiLORENZO
22 March 2017

SAO PAULO (AP) -- Brazil's meat exports effectively collapsed this week, the agricultural minister said Wednesday, as several countries halted imports from the South American country in the wake of a meat inspection scandal.

Brazil is struggling to contain the scandal, in which investigators say that health inspectors were bribed to overlook expired meats and chemicals and that other products were added to meat to improve its appearance and smell. The government has largely tried to downplay the extent of the corruption, while also criticizing the federal police for how they have communicated about it.

The result has been a stampede away from Brazilian exports.

On average in March, Brazil exported more than $60 million worth of meat each day, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi told a Senate committee Wednesday. That figure was $74,000 on Tuesday, a few days after investigators revealed the probe.

That precipitous fall in exports shows how serious the crisis is and the government should not try to downplay it, said Michael Gordon, CEO of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis PR firm.

"Even if it is a handful of bad actors, the issue is that those bad actors are tainting the entire culture of meat production in the country," he said. "That's why a systemic response is needed."

The government has suspended exports from the 21 companies under investigation and noted that only a handful of 4,000 plants were involved, but that has not quelled concern abroad.

South Africa was the latest to join the growing list of countries that are instituting partial or total bans on Brazilian meat. The others include the European Union, China, Japan and Mexico.

In a statement Wednesday, its Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said that it would block products from the companies implicated in the probe. Port inspectors will also test every container of meat from Brazil for pathogens such as Salmonella.

Exports of beef, pork and poultry make up 15 percent of Brazil's total exports, and a collapse in the sector would have serious implications for Brazil's economy, which is already in deep recession.

Brazil is also trying to address concerns at home, where Sunday BBQs are a weekly rite. The consumer protection lobby Idec is calling for a general recall and more information about which meat might be affected. So far, Brazil has not instituted a recall, but instead is pulling samples of products from shelves and sending them for testing.

Maggi has assured the public that meat is safe - but also said there would be a recall if any problems were found during the testing.

Sniping between the federal police, who are investigating the corruption, and President Michel Temer's government has not helped matters.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the federal police and the Agricultural Ministry tried to smooth over their differences and reassure the public and importers that the problem was smaller than it appeared.

The investigation has revealed "facts (that) are directly related to errors in the professional conduct of some public servants and do not represent a general malfunctioning of the Brazilian system of hygiene security," the statement read.

Associated Press writer Stuart Graham in Johannesburg contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 5:45 pm 
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EU Parliament fails to skewer kebab meat phosphates
13 December 2017

STRASBOURG, France (AFP) - The European Parliament on Wednesday narrowly failed to block a proposal to allow the use of phosphates in kebab meat, an additive which critics say is linked to heart disease.

As a result, the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, can now authorise the addition of phosphates to "vertical meat spits" -- the official EU term for the rotating towers of seasoned lamb and chicken beloved of late-night drinkers across the continent. Phosphates are largely banned in food in Europe, but exceptions are made for some dishes including certain types of sausage -- and now kebabs.

A resolution to block the proposal, put forward by the parliament's public health and food safety committee, got 373 votes from MEPs sitting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg -- just three short of the majority it needed. The committee wanted to delay permission for phosphates in kebabs until the European Food Safety Authority completes a study into the risks of their use.

The Greens group of MEPs, which supported keeping the ban, called Wednesday's vote a "disappointing result for consumer rights". Greens MEP Bart Staes blamed a "misinformation campaign led by some in the media and the meat industry". "Unless they can show without doubt that phosphate additives are not harmful, their use in all foods must be immediately reviewed by the Commission," Staes said in a statement.

The centre-right EPP group of MEPs, which supported granting permission for phosphate use, said there was "no proof that phosphates have negative health effects".

Source: AFP

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