Andriukaitis will meet top officials including Brazil’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply, Blairo Maggi, Health Minister Ricardo Barros and president of the National Sanitary Surveillance Agency Jarbas Barbosa.
Talks will focus on the reinforced controls Brazilian meat factories have set up, as Andriukaitis is keen to ensure that European meat imports are safe for public consumption.
Four Brazilian meat plants were banned from exporting meat to the EU last week. This came after Brazil’s federal police launched their biggest operation to date with more than 1,000 officers raiding meat plants across six Brazilian states. So far, Brazil has suspended 33 government officials, closed three slaughterhouses and placed a further 21 under inspection after claims some meat processors bribed government officials to ignore food safety transgressions.
As soon Europe became aware of the scandal, the European Commission advised member states to introduce reinforced controls, focusing on food safety.
On Wednesday 29 March, the Commission will meet with the EU member states to “ensure there is a harmonised approach in relation to the details of reinforced checks”, Commission spokesperson Enrico Brivio said.
“In the light of the outcome of these reinforced checks and the evolution of the crisis and the response of the Brazilian authorities to the demands for corrective measures, the Commission and the member states will conclude if future measures are necessary,” added Brivio.
The European Commission has confirmed it will run audits at Brazilian factories “as soon as possible” and should be finished by mid-May.
Meanwhile, one the biggest meat processors in Brazil, BRF, has established a quality control group to “re-attest” that the company follows international food safety standards. It has also set up a Special Response Committee, led by BRF board member Luiz Fernando Furlan, to monitor the corruption and food safety scandal that has rocked even the biggest Brazilian meat firms.
An internal investigation will also be carried out by the company’s audit committee to probe BRF’s role in the meat scandal.
“BRF does not concur with illicit conduct and categorically refutes any insinuation to the contrary,” the company said in a statement.
“If anything unlawful is discovered as part of this ongoing investigation, BRF will take all necessary and appropriate action to address the situation.”