EU to block any firms involved in Brazil meat scandal

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission is monitoring meat imports from Brazil and any companies found to be involved in a meat scandal there will be denied access to the European Union market, a spokesman said on Monday.

Brazilian police raided global meatpacking companies JBS SA JBSS3.SA and BRF SA BRFS3.SA as well as dozens of smaller rivals on Friday in a crackdown on alleged payments to health officials to conceal unsanitary conditions.

“The Commission will ensure that any of the establishments implicated in the fraud are suspended from exporting to the EU,” a spokesman for the European Commission told a press briefing.

The Commission said the scandal would have no impact on negotiations between the European Union and South American bloc Mercosur about free trade agreements.

Any deal would include a chapter on sanitary measures and food safety standards, a spokesman said.

“The future EU/Mercosur free trade agreement will not lower but will reinforce our high regulatory requirements and food safety standards for agriculture imports,” he said.

Brazil exported $6.9 billion of poultry and $5.5 billion of beef worldwide last year, according to industry groups.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by David Clarke