SÃO PAULO, Brazil – The Brazilian Association of Animal Proteins (ABPA) reported export losses in the country’s poultry and pork industries reached $40 million following revelations stemming from an anticorruption probe targeting Brazilian meat packers.
Major trading partners with Brazil — namely China, Hong Kong, Egypt, Mexico and Chile — had implemented total or partial bans on imports of meat products from Brazil. On March 25, China, Egypt and Chile lifted bans on Brazilian meat imports.
In the United States, the US Dept. of Agriculture imposed point-of-entry re-inspection of meat from Brazil by Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors; and all ready-to-eat products from Brazil will be re-inspected and tested for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes.
JBS SA, the world’s largest meatpacker, and BRF SA, the world’s largest exporter of chicken products are among dozens of meat companies targeted by the investigation. Both companies have denied any wrongdoing.
ABPA said Brazilian meat exporters have incurred global impacts due to “misunderstandings” spurred by “Operation The Flesh is Weak,” a two-year investigation by the Federal Police in Brazil into bribes paid to federal regulators in exchange for loosening food safety regulations. More than 100 individuals, mostly health inspectors, face allegations of taking bribes, failing to inspect meat processing facilities and falsifying documentation, among other accusations.
ABPA said the bans represent 20 percent of revenue generated by chicken exports, 33 percent of international pork sales and 14 percent of shipments of turkey meat. Losses associated with ban are equivalent to 22 percent of $185 million in revenue generated by meat exports in one week based on previous weekly averages, the association said.
China is the second-largest importer of chicken meat and the third-largest importer of pork produced in Brazil, according to the ABPA. Hong Kong is the second-largest importer of Brazilian pork and ranks sixth in imports of Brazilian chicken meat.
In response to the investigation, major quick-service chains in South Korea and Hong Kong have pulled products made with Brazilian chicken, beef and pork in an effort to reassure customers about the safety of the chains’ foods, Reuters reported.