Brasilia- Saudi Arabia announced Thursday a decision to stop importing beef and poultry products from four Brazilian companies, over concerns about food safety after accusations that individuals had been bribed to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
“This measure was taken in the interest of citizens’ and residents’ safety,” a statement from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, issued by Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA late on Wednesday, said.
The statement listed the affected companies as JJZ Alimentos SA, Frango Dm Industria e Comercio de Alimentos Ltda, Seara Alimentos, a subsidiary of JBS, the world’s biggest meatpacking company, and BRF SA, the world’s biggest poultry exporter.
Reuters said that following a two-year investigation of Brazil’s meatpacking industry, police have accused more than 100 people, mostly health inspectors, of taking bribes for allowing the sale of rancid products, falsifying export documents or failing to inspect meatpacking plants.
The companies have denied any wrongdoing and authorities have said that no cases of death or illness have been linked to the tainted meat investigation.
Brazilian beef exports to Saudi Arabia in the first 10 months of 2016 totaled almost 24,000 tons, according to a study by Meat and Livestock Australia, a research service quoted by Reuters.
Meanwhile, Egypt announced it would suspend Brazilian meat imports until they are confirmed to be safe for consumption, an Egyptian government spokesman told Reuters on Thursday.
Egypt’s agriculture ministry spokesperson, Hamid Abdel Dayim, said that such decision did not mean a full ban of the products.
“We have not stopped imports, only delayed them until the situation is clearer. We are following up on the situation with the companies and butchers that we deal with,” Reuters quoted Dayim as saying.
In addition to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, China, the European Union, South Korea and Chile have also announced partial or total bans on Brazilian meat imports.