Brazil's Second-Biggest Chicken Buyer Adds Checks on Meat

Updated on
  • Saudi Arabia tells port inspectors to check samples of meat
  • Qatar orders Brazil meat held until found to meet standards

Saudi Arabia, the world’s second-largest buyer of Brazil’s chicken, ordered new inspections of meat from the South American nation after allegations that exporters bribed local inspectors to approve tainted meat for sale. Egypt temporarily suspended permits on new imports.

The Saudi Food & Drugs Authority ordered port inspectors to “intensify checks” and take samples of meat to make sure they meet standards, the official Saudi Press Agency said. Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health told port operators to hold meat until samples were taken, and validated. Saudi Arabia imported 744,000 metric tons of Brazilian chicken meat in the period from February through January this year, making it the second biggest buyer after China and Hong Kong combined, according to Brazilian meat exporters group Abiec.

Slapping Limits

Some of the world’s biggest meat buyers are slapping limits on supplies from Brazil as producers in the country become embroiled in a tainted-meat scandal. China, the largest importer of Brazil chicken and beef, has temporarily suspended shipments from the South American country, while the European Union, Chile and Japan have restricted purchases.

Brazilian authorities said last week that an investigation showed about 40 companies, including JBS SA and BRF SA, had been involved in illicit activities such as bribing inspectors to approve the sale of spoiled meat and adding chemical substances to mask the poor quality. The companies have denied the allegations.

Egypt is tightening inspection rules at ports and is holding off on issuing new import permits until results of Brazil’s investigation, according to Hamad Abdel-Dayem, spokesman for Egypt’s Agriculture Ministry.

Oman is waiting for “concrete evidence” of tainted meat in Brazil, Fuad Al Sajwani, Oman’s Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, said Wednesday in an interview in Doha. “We have to take proper measures in case the situation goes beyond what it is today,” he said. Imports could be banned from one region of Brazil if evidence is found, he said. Brazil is a “major partner with Oman in many projects,” he said.

In the United Arab Emirates, there are safeguards in place to protect the safety of food imports, according to Kaltham Ali Hussain Kayaf, head of the Department of Animal Health, part of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. There is no decision to ban imports from Brazil, he said.

— With assistance by Rachel Chang, Salma El Wardany, Mahmoud Habboush, Fabiana Batista, and Tatiana Freitas

(Updates with United Arab Emirates in last paragraph.)
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