Brazil’s tainted meat: Members of the European Parliament call for actions to protect EU consumers
EU must do utmost to protect its consumers and their expectations in the aftermath of the scandal in Brazil over sale and export of rotten meat, many MEPs said during the debate with Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis on Monday evening. They want to improve food-safety check at EU borders and insist that imported foodstuffs must comply with the same strict standards as the ones produced in the EU.
How much tainted meat from Brazil has reached EU shores, why did EU border checks fail to reveal apparently systemic food fraud and what impact will this scandal have on ongoing trade talks with Mercosur? These were just some of questions that MEPs put to Commissioner Andriukaitis during the debate. Improve controls at EU borders
Many MEPs criticised the fact that import checks at EU borders failed to reveal apparently long-standing fraud and demanded remedies. They asked Commissioner Andriukaitis what member states should do to improve border controls. Some members suggested that further harmonisation at EU level might be necessary to make these checks more efficient. Imports must comply with high EU standards
MEPs insisted that imports from any third country must comply with high EU standards to protect EU consumers as well as EU farmers and called on the Commission to ensure that this principle is enshrined in all EU trade deals. Be ready to expand the ban
All MEPs deplored the corruption scandal but while some members welcomed the fact that it was Brazilian police investigation that revealed the fraud, several members criticised general lack of credible food safety checks in Brazil and noted that this was not the first time when imports from Brazil proved to be problematic.
Some speakers supported Commission’s targeted ban on imports from facilities involved in the scandal but others insisted that the EU’s executive should be ready to ban all meat imports from Brazil, if need be. Mercosur trade talks: What to do next?
Some MEPs called into question trade talks with Mercosur countries which, they said, should not continue anymore. Others stressed that Mercosur trade negotiations should not be used as a scapegoat for fraudulent behaviour of just a few actors. They said negotiations should continue but insisted that the final deal must be well crafted.
A two-year investigation by Brazilian Federal Police into two of Brazil’s largest meat processing companies (JBS & BRF) revealed serious fraud and corruption, showing that potentially dangerous meat products were placed in the food chain, thus potentially putting EU consumers at risk.
The scandal was debated by members of Parliament’s Agriculture Committee on 21 March.
Brazil is the world’s largest exporter of beef and poultry combined. It is also the EU’s largest meat supplier, exporting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of beef and chicken to the EU each year.
In 2015, Brazil supplied the EU with over 140,000 tonnes of beef, or 42.1% of its total beef imports. In 2014, it supplied about 60% of the EU’s 0.8 million tonnes of poultry imports. According to the OECD, the EU consumed almost 7.77 million tonnes of beef in 2015 and more than 12.72 million tonnes of poultry in 2014.
This suggests that imports from Brazil account for about 1.8% of total EU beef and veal consumption and 3.77% of total EU poultry consumption.