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Brazil’s investigation into tainted food has hit importers, shippers, food processors and customers around the world, reports Bloomberg.
The crisis arose after Brazilian authorities announced on March 17 that they’re investigating evidence food producers bribed government officials to approve the sale of spoiled meat. Prosecutors said some sausages and cold cuts contained animal parts such as pig heads, and there were cases where cardboard was added to meat products or acid was used to mask the smell of tainted meat.
Brazil is the world’s largest beef and chicken exporter, accounting for almost a fifth of global exports. And China, including Hong Kong, is the biggest export market for Brazilian meat. It bought about a third of the $5.5 billion of beef shipped from Latin America’s largest economy last year, according to the meat exporters group Abiec.
It takes a month or more for meat from Brazil to reach Asian ports, so cargoes already loaded are now in limbo. Hong Kong said on Tuesday that it has also temporarily suspended the import of frozen and chilled poultry meat from Brazil. The city is a major transshipment point for meat and other goods into China.
Cofco Meat Holdings Ltd., a listed unit of China’s state-run food giant, received news of the ban on March 21 and called its supplier in Brazil on March 22. Cofco told the supplier not to ship the Chinese company’s order. Cofco Meat sold 107,200 tons of imported frozen meat in 2015.
Chilled meat needs to get from meatpacker to consumer in about 70 days and meat shipped from Brazil uses more than half that time at sea, according to Asian shippers. Inspection times at the receiving port are usually four or five days, but can take two weeks for a thorough examination. Agricultural products that do not pass customs inspections are typically burned at the port, the shippers said. (Source: Bloomberg)
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