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EU could block Brazilian firms involved meat scandal

EU could block Brazilian firms involved meat scandalThe European Commission is monitoring meat imports from Brazil and any companies found to be involved in a meat scandal there will be denied access to the European Union market, Reuters reported on Monday.

Brazilian police raided the premises of global meatpacking companies JBS SA and BRF SA on Friday, as well as dozens of smaller rivals, in a crackdown on alleged bribery of health officials who were paid to conceal unsanitary conditions. Top meat-packers have been accused of selling rotten produce for years, while Brazil is the world's biggest red meat exporter.

"The Commission will ensure that any of the establishments implicated in the fraud are suspended from exporting to the EU," a spokesman for the European Commission told a regular press briefing.

The Commission added that the meat scandal would have no impact on negotiations currently under way between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur, in which the two sides hope to reach agreements on free trade.

Still, Brazil's President Michel Temer has sought to reassure foreign trade partners that the corruption scandal engulfing the country's meat industry does not mean its products are unsafe. Meeting ambassadors from Europe, the United States and China, Temer said his government remained confident about the quality of Brazilian meat.

"The Brazilian government reiterates its confidence in the quality of a national product that has won over consumers and obtained the approval of the most rigorous markets," said Temer.

As three meat-packing plants have been closed and another 21 are being investigated, Temer said the plants under scrutiny represented a tiny proportion of Brazil's meat industry.

"Only 21 units out of 4,837 in Brazil subject to government inspection are facing allegations of irregularities. And only six of them have exported in the past 60 days," said the president.
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