Brazil’s $60 million-a-day meat exports collapse to $74,000 amid inspection scandal

Japan Times

AP Mar 23, 2017

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.m

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This entry was posted in Corruption - Tham nhũng, Y tế and tagged , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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