RIO DE JANEIRO, March 24 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian government on Friday ordered the recall of meat from three meatpacking companies involved in a tainted production scandal that has cast doubts on food safety.
The fallout came after revelations last week that Brazil's largest meatpackers were under investigation for bribing government inspectors to certify expired meat.
At least three meatpacking companies -- Souza Ramos, Transmeat and Peccin, all in the southern state of Parana -- were given five days to recall their products.
"All products originating from these establishments must be recalled, with the reimbursement due to consumers," the national consumer protection agency Senacom said.
The companies are among 21 meatpackers under investigation as part of Operation Weak Flesh announced last Friday.
The agency also called on companies, including global meatpacking giants JBS and BRF, to report on the types of adulteration made to their meats, including injecting water into beef or poultry to add to the weight.
Brazilian exporters of pork and chicken have been hit with 40 million U.S. dollars in lost revenue since the scandal broke out, according to the Brazilian Association of Animal Protien (ABPA).
That figure will balloon as Brazil's trade partners have temporarily suspended meat imports from the South American country, or decided to return meat from companies implicated in the corruption scheme.
The 28-member European Union (EU) announced on Friday it would recall products purchased from the 21 meatpackers named, and return them to Brazil.
Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU health and food safety commissioner, is expected on Monday to meet with various top officials in Brazil, including the ministers of agriculture and health.
"Depending on the outcome of the verification of controls, the evolution of the crisis and the response of Brazilian authorities to the demands for corrective measures, the commission and the member states are going to decide whether future measures will be necessary," according to an EU statement. "The protection of the European consumer will be the determining factor."
The two-year investigation by Brazil's Federal Police has shown that regional agriculture and fishing ministry officials in the states of Parana, Minas Gerais and Goias were paid to protect the meatpackers.
Executives from JBS, which owns meatpackers Seara and Swift, and Brasil Foods, which owns Sadia and Perdigao, as well as ministry officials have been arrested.
The scandal could cost the country's meat sector up to two billion U.S. dollars in losses, according to ABPA.