Brazil’s Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) has slammed the “false” tainted meat claims, six months after the Weak Flesh police sting saw 33 government officials sacked and three slaughterhouses closed.
Meat industry figures strongly denied claims rotten meat had been sold; they admit some protein may have been past its sell-by date.
“There’s no report that showed rotten meat was being sold,” said a defiant Francisco Turra, ABPA president, in response to strong questioning at a press conference in São Paulo.
Turra made a strong defence on behalf of Brazil, the world’s largest chicken exporter and fourth-biggest pork exporter, which is desperate to regain the trust of its global trade partners following the damaging Weak Flesh allegations.
Without providing evidence, Turra said multiple analyses of Brazilian meat have proved that protein for export was not rotten. Even the Federal Police, which launched the Weak Flesh investigation in March, have attested to the quality of Brazilian protein, he added.
Turra admitted “some mistakes” had been made by some firms which “did not have best practice”, but he stressed only 21 of 4,837 factories eligible to export meat were under investigation.
Amid the so-called scandal in March, Brazilian exports to key markets such as the EU, the US, China, Hong Kong and Egypt were banned. From the 46 countries that questioned Brazil over the investigation, only seven still enforce an outright pork and poultry embargo: Algeria, Benin, Mozambique, Republic of Congo, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Trinidad & Tobago. Collectively, these markets represent just 0.4% of Brazil’s combined pork and poultry trade.
Exporting Brazilian meat companies that have regained market access are reinforcing audits, analysing more meat samples and paying closer attention to compliance.
But this may not be enough. Blairo Maggi, Brazilian Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, stressed markets will need to be conquered a second time, as meat exporters have to “achieve trust once again”.
Answering only eight questions from a pack of nearly 50 reporters, Maggi was asked by this site if the corruption probe he faces over his role as governor of Mato Grosso state from 2003 to 2010 would affect his work.
Maggi said he “will resign” if he loses the support of Brazilian farmers, but stressed Brazil President Michel Temer, who is under a separate corruption investigation, had asked him to remain on.