Fraud and corruption in the Brazilian meat industry must be top of the agenda when EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis, travels to Brazil on an official visit next week, Mairead McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament said today.
A two year investigation into the meat industry revealed a toxic level of corruption giving rise to huge concerns about public health and exposing a wanton disregard for food safety and quality, driven by greed and avarice.
“Any system that fails to protect food standards and which sees an undue closeness between the powerful meat industry and those who inspect it, as was uncovered by the investigation, is alarming,” Ms McGuinness said, as many containers of meat from Brazil are on the seas destined for Europe.
“These consignments must be stopped and double checked,” she said.
“The Commissioner must make a judgement about whether he can have any trust in the regulatory system as operated in Brazil and if an immediate halt should be put on all meat imports into the EU from Brazil, at least until we know the full extent of the scandal,” she said. “The Commissioner has a huge responsibility to protect EU consumers.”
Ms McGuinness said the EU is constantly fighting for and defending high levels of consumer protection for produce originating within its own borders.
“It is inconceivable that we would turn a blind eye to the emerging story from Brazil.
“It is not enough to stop products from four processing plants – how sure are we about the rest,” she asked.
She said the focus is on beef with reports of rotten meat being doctored to improve its appearance and smell, but there should also be a focus on the poultry sector, as Brazil is a massive producer and exporter of poultry meat.
“The Commissioner needs to come back with answers and actions to reassure consumers, to clarify what product was exported to the EU and how much of it was doctored and contaminated.
“The EU cannot continue to engage in trade talks with Brazil with meat on the agenda – it has to be off the table,” she said.
“Trust in the Brazilian system is broken and until it is restored we cannot put our consumers at risk, and our producers at a disadvantage.”