BRAZIL – Brazil has improved its food safety standards and is working with trading partners to avoid another ban on meat exports from the country, according to Blairo Maggi, Brazil’s Agriculture Minister.

In line with Reuters report, the minister said that it was possible some meat-packing plants could be banned by importing countries due to new investigations at firms accused of evading safety checks and bribing inspectors to conceal problems.

“Europe is very critical of Brazil since the first phase of the Weak Flesh probe,” Maggi said.

“We’ve been telling them we raised the bar and are enforcing stricter controls.”

The ministry is said to have suspended meat exports by plants in the towns of Rio Verde and Mineiros, in Goias state, and Carambei, in Parana state to food processor BRF SA.

These included exports to 12 countries that require specific controls for the Salmonella spp bacteria, including South Africa, South Korea and the European Union.

In what they referred to as the Weak Flesh Investigation, Brazilian police arrested the former chief executive of major food processor BRF SA, implicating him for a fraud in an attempt to avoid food safety checks.

The Weak Flesh investigation was launched in 2017, targeting the processed beef, chicken and pork producer JBS S.A and the poultry processor, BRF.

Following the probe into the corruption allegations, the European Commission drafted a proposal to de-list certain Brazilian establishments from which imports of products of animal origin are currently authorised.

“And the measure is indeed related to the deficiencies recently detected in the Brazilian official control system,” said a spokesperson at the European Commission’s Health and Food Safety department.