BRASILIA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The European Union has asked for detailed information from Brazil concerning recently revealed fraud in the meat industry, as well as guarantees that meat exports pose no health risks to consumers.
On Tuesday, the EU's Health and Food Safety Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, met with Brazil's Minister of Agriculture, Blairo Maggi, and spoke of the 27-member's bloc tough stance.
"He told me there is strong pressure from countries who want a tougher stance from the EU," Maggi told the press after the meeting.
The EU is the third-largest consumer of Brazilian meat exports but have stringent regulations on any such exports.
This concern came after the federal police carried out the broadest operation in its history on March 17. Operation Carne Debil (Weak Meat) was the culmination of a two-year investigation that found a number of shocking practices, including bribing government officials to allow rotten produce to be exported and meat being chemically altered to mask bad smells.
The EU has announced a partial ban on products from 21 frozen meat plants under investigation, while Brazil has also banned exports from all plants concerned.
According to Maggi, Andriukaitis suggested that Brazil's sanitary control system be audited by external agents.
"The announcement of the police operation contaminated the information flow in Brazil and abroad. Foreign consumers are thinking about cardboard meat, about carcinogens, that we have no control over the production process," he warned.
Maggi and Andriukaitis are set to meet on Thursday when the EU commissioner will receive documents detailing the investigations, inspections and lab testing carried out by the ministry, and all pertinent information about the companies involved.
"This is the data that is already available for other countries and on our website. We will provide everything in detail so that they can see the responsibility we are taking on and how far the investigations have come," said Maggi.
Despite the events of recent days, the Brazilian meat industry has vowed to restore consumer trust, said the minister.
"Regaining trust in the Brazilian system will take time....the government will have to speak and visit many countries, along with the private sector, to show that Brazilian products are of good quality," he said.