Speaking at a press conference in São Paulo, on Monday (20 March), Francisco Sergio Turra, head of the Brazilian Association of Animal Proteins (ABPA - Associação Brasileira de Proteína Animal), said the country’s meat production standards followed international models. ABPA represents the poultry and pork industries in Brazil.
Turra spoke out after the launch, three days ago, of a federal police operation dubbed ‘Weak Meat’, which officers claimed detected irregularities within 29 Brazilian companies, among them two of the biggest meatpackers in the world: JBS and BRF. Both have already denied any wrongdoing. The police allege that Brazilian meat companies have been bribing 33 officials from Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, allowing companies to operate without proper surveillance. All those inspectors were removed from office on Monday 20 March.
Turra, however, is unhappy at the bad publicity and how it has tarnished the reputation of the whole industry: “The way this police raid was communicated has aroused generalisations,” he said, adding that Brazil’s federal government and industry associations needed to clarify to consumers in Brazil and abroad that Brazilian meat producers had high standards. He stressed that his colleagues had not gone to the capital Brasilia “to protest against the police [and] we are not speaking out against anyone”. He declared: “Our main concern is the six million workers of the industry. We are on a patriotic mission.”
Seriously damage trade
Brazil exports a wide range of meat products to 160 countries, which represents 15% of Brazilian exports, being particularly strong in poultry, bovine and pigmeat.
The scandal has the potential to seriously damage this trade, with regulators for major markets, including China and the European Union (EU), announcing today that they are suspending imports of Brazilian meat.
Also speaking at the press conference, Antônio Jorge Camardelli, head of the Brazilian Association of the Exporting Meat Industries (ABIEC - Associação Brasileira das Indústrias Exportadoras de Carne), said the police raids had created “an unnecessary crisis”. ABIEC represents 91% of Brazil’s bovine meat exporting industry.
“We built our reputation little by little. The opening of markets abroad was slow, country by country. Today Brazilian meatpacking industries have the best excellence certifications,” Camardelli said. “Restrictions will impact all the economy and lead to the loss of jobs and income.”
ABPA and ABIEC also printed a joint statement in Brazil’s best-selling newspapers, saying it was irresponsible for actions and statements to raise doubts about the overall quality of Brazilian meat. Brazil’s federal police did not reply to requests for comment from this site.
“We, together, can give consumers in Brazil and abroad an assurance that they can consume meats produced in our country with confidence about their sanitary quality,” Camardelli said.