Russia defends Brazil over rotten meat scandal

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russia has leapt to the defense of Brazil's under-fire meat safety standards
Russia has leapt to the defense of Brazil's under-fire meat safety standards

Related tags: Meat, European union, Import, Brazil

Russia has enhanced laboratory controls over meat imported from Brazil but will take no further action following the rotten meat scandal, according to Julia Melano, press secretary of Russia’s veterinary body Rosselkhoznadzor. 

Information from Brazil’s veterinary service has shown that, of the 21 companies embroiled in the scandal, 19 businesses were not authorised to make any deliveries to Russia and one entity was authorised, but the actual deliveries were restricted earlier, due to veterinary problems. This means that, in fact, only one company from the list was supplying meat to Russia and the decision on this entity “should be taken sometime later​”, said Melano.

At the same time, Russia’s meat industry in general took a soft stance on the scandal, suggesting that the problem was exaggerated.

In particular, Viktor Linnik, president of Russia’s agricultural holding Miratorg, said his company had been working for 20 years with Brazilian meat businesses and that he could guarantee Brazil did not have problems with meat quality.

From the point of view of professionals, nothing special has actually happened. Firstly, there are thousands meat plants in Brazil and there are suspicions that, in 20 of them, unscrupulous veterinary specialists were falsifying papers. In fact, similar things could be found in any country,​” Linnik stated.

Take advantage

He concluded that the whole recent story on Brazilian meat​ was evidence of rising competition in the world’s meat market. He said that it was possible many countries would take advantage of this situation and ban imports of meat from Brazil, but that, in his opinion, this step would have nothing to do with meat quality.

Sergey Ushin, chairman of Russia’s National Meat Association, also said there was no possibility that rotten meat made its way into the Russian market. He claimed that Rosselkhoznadzor performed the strictest controls over the quality of imported meat products, not only inspecting supplied products, but also tracing the supply chain and the veterinary system in the supplying country.

Ushin also suggested that, in certain cases, the supply of rotten meat​ could involve unscrupulous meat importers as well as unscrupulous producers and exporters. “I know that, in some European countries, the monitoring system [for imported meat] is not very well-established. In some cases, of course, it could involve the relevant importers as well – some firms in the European Union and US which, for an extra penny, could turn a blind eye to what they bought​,” he said.

Meanwhile, referring to possible import restrictions, Ushin said that a ban on poultry imports from Brazil to Russia would not have any serious impact on the country’s market, because Brazil accounted for only 0.5% of all supplies to Russia. However, if Rosselkhoznadzor were to ban imports of beef from the country, this could cause a hike in prices, and other suppliers of beef – primarily from South America – could take advantage of the situation.

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