SÃO PAULO, Brazil – Hong Kong reopened its markets to imports of beef produced in Brazil, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Farming reported. Hong Kong’s ban now impacts the 21 plants that are under investigation by the Federal Police in Brazil.
Ministry officials were able to resolve remaining doubts about the quality and wholesomeness of Brazilian beef during a conference call with Hong Kong government authorities. China, Chile and Egypt also have lifted bans on imports of Brazilian beef products. South Korean lifted its ban on poultry exports from BRF SA, the world’s largest exporter of poultry, which was implicated in a scandal involving Brazilian meat packers. The European Union implemented a partial ban on Brazilian meat imports from the 21 meat plants under investigation.
“The announcement of the reopening was made by the Center for Food Security (CFS) [in Hong Kong] to the Brazilian consulate…” the ministry said in a statement.
Separately, the Agriculture Ministry suspended three additional meat processing plants that were implicated in the bribery scandal; this bring to six the number of processing facilities ordered closed by the Agriculture Ministry. The facilities, located in Parana state, include Souza Ramos, in Colombo, SSPMA Dairy in Sapopema and Castro Meat in Castro.
Twenty-one plants are under investigation by the Federal Police in Brazil. The companies face accusations that federal regulators took bribes in exchange for loosening food safety regulations resulting in adulterated food products entering commerce.
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said it is important to restore confidence among consumers and trade partners of Brazilian meat products. “Our image has been heavily attacked and we cannot forget that competitors want markets open to them,” he said in a statement.