Brazilian meat scandal hits global markets

20th March 2017 5:44 PM

AUSTRALIAN beef exports may win a greater share of Asian imports after a Brazilian meat scandal has rocked the industry.

Brazilian federal police raided dozens of meat processing plants in the South American country on Friday after a two-year investigation found meatworks were selling rotten beef and poultry.

Some meatwork managers were accused of bribing officials in a cover-up that went to the top tiers of the Brazilian government.

The New York Times has reported bribes were directed to the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party of president Michael Temer.

According to one European report, Brazilian police allege potato, water and cardboard were used to dilute chicken meat to boost profits and salmonella-contaminated meat was exported to Europe.

The world's biggest beef exporter JBS and one of the world's largest chicken meat suppliers BRF have been implicated in the scandal, but both companies deny any wrongdoing.

Mr Temer pointedly ate an a Brazilian steakhouse to downplay the significance of the allegations.

China's Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine yesterday issued an urgent notice to all meat entry ports that customs clearance of Brazilian meat would be put on hold, with meat already on the docks to be kept in customs warehouses.

Meat and Livestock Australia believes one Brazilian exporter has 160 containers of beef on its way to export markets. MLA managing director Richard Norton said if China did not accept the Brazilian product on the water, it would seek to buy that product from other countries, fundamentally spiking global beef prices.

"One hundred and sixty containers is a lot of beef to be replaced in a short period," Mr Norton said.

"This type of story also enhances that food safety should be the priority, not price.

"The Australian red meat industry has world leading food safety, integrity and traceability systems.

"The Brazilian issue enhances the investment of Australia to provide the safest red meat in the world to consumers globally."