Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Brazil meat scandal deepens with EU barring some imports

China's Ambassador to Brazil, Li Jinzhang, left, sits next to Brazil's President Michel Temer during a steak dinner at a traditional Brazilian barbecue restaurant after a meeting on the rotten meat scandal in Brasilia, Brazil, Sunday, March 19, 2017. Temer met with dozens of ambassadors from countries that import Brazilian meat, seeking to minimize damage from a corruption probe that alleges meatpackers bribed inspectors to keep rotten meat on the market. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A scandal over expired meats in Brazil deepened on Monday with the European Union announcing it was temporarily halting some imports of meats from Latin America's largest nation.

The companies involved in the scandal would be temporarily barred, said European Union spokesman Enrico Brivio, speaking to reporters in Brasilia, the capital.

The EU "will guarantee that any of the establishments involved in the fraud will be suspended," said Brivio, who didn't cite companies by name or expound on how long the ban will last.

The decision is a blow to Brazil, one of the world's largest exporters of meat.

On Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants involving the giant meatpackers JBS and BRF. Both companies have denied wrongdoing.

Authorities say the companies used chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meats.

President Michel Temer called an emergency meeting Sunday with ambassadors of several countries. He assured them that national meats were safe and invited them to a Brazilian-style barbeque.

On Monday, Temer again sought to calm nerves, saying that Brazil meat industry should not be judged by this one investigation.

"The agro business for us in Brazil is very important and it should not be marred by a small nucleus (of bad actors), a small thing," he said, speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce in Sao Paulo.