March 7, 2018 / 3:03 PM / 11 days ago

No risk of new bans on Brazil meat after probe: minister

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazil does not face any risks of countries instituting new bans on Brazilian meat imports after the latest phase of the “Weak Flesh” investigation into companies accused of committing fraud to avoid safety checks, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said on Wednesday.

Federal police announced a new phase of the probe this week, issuing dozens of arrest and seizure warrants, and arrested the former chief executive officer of top chicken exporter BRF SA.

Maggi told reporters the latest phase deals with events in 2014 and 2015. There have been no new accusations since then.

“These are things of the past and we want to clearly separate the past from the present and defend the Ministry’s point of view that we are doing things correctly and transparently,” he said.

The ministry sent information clarifying the nature of the new accusations to trade partners and instituting certain “self embargos” as precautionary measures, he said. On Monday, the ministry suspended operations at four BRF plants.

Among plans to continue overhauling and modernizing the Brazil food safety system, the country is carrying out a plan to centralize inspections of slaughterhouses, Maggi said. Brazil will be divided into 10 regions with slaughterhouses in each region under the authority of an agent from the federal Animal Surveillance and Inspection Services, he said.

Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jeffrey Benkoe

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