Workers at Brazil's global meatpacking plant, JBS.
Workers at Brazil's global meatpacking plant, JBS.

China has suspended all meat imports from Brazil. The move is a massive blow to Brazil's already struggling economy as the rotten meat scandal deepens.

China accounted for nearly one-third of the Brazilian meatpacking industry's $13.9 billion in exports in 2016.

The European Union also announced a temporary ban of meat imports from Brazil citing concerns over the scandal involving the world's top beef and poultry exporters which supply products to 150 countries.

The European Commission said the scandal would not affect negotiations between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur about agreements on free trade.

On Friday, Brazilian police raided the premises of global meatpacking companies BRF and JBS, as well as dozens of smaller rivals in a massive scandal involving bribery and selling rotten meat products for years.

Authorities say they have found evidence of meatpackers bribing inspectors and politicians to overlook unsanitary practices such as processing rotten meat and shipping exports with traces of salmonella.

Police said they also have evidence that meatpackers falsified documentation for exports to Europe, China and the Middle East.

TRT World spoke to Brazilian journalist Manuela Parrino who is following the story from Rio de Janeiro.

Government seeks to contain fallout

Brazil's President Michel Temer has sought to downplay the meatpacking probe, saying it involved only 21 of Brazil's more than 4,800 meat processing units.

But Francisco Turra, head of Brazilian beef producers association ABPA, told reporters it had put the entire meat industry in jeopardy and "destroyed" a hard-won image of quality products.

Temer on Sunday also called an emergency meeting with foreign diplomats and executives to try and allay fears over the scandal which is tarnishing a sector responsible for $12 billion in annual exports.

The meeting came after three BRF, two JBS, and 20 public officials were arrested during police raids.

Brazil's Agriculture Ministry suspended three plants cited in the investigation, one run by BRF and two run by smaller rival Grupo Peccin, and began removing their meat products from supermarkets.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies