Foster's pulls corned beef from shelves

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Some of China's largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil's meat processing industry is hitting business in its top export market.

Food inspectors and officials are accused of accepting bribes in exchange for overlooking unsanitary factory conditions and potentially contaminated meat.

The European Union, China, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong, and Argentina are among those which have banned or limited meat imports from Brazil in response to the developing scandal.

At the end of last week, it became clear that, for years, Brazil has been exporting veal and chicken meat beyond its expiry date.

Brazilian chicken accounts for 83 per cent of all imported poultry products in South Korea, with the company in question alone accounting for 40 percent.

Meat is Brazil's fourth-largest export by value (at nearly US$14bn), and the bans could hurt the country's slow economic recovery. Port inspectors will also test every container of meat from Brazil for pathogens such as Salmonella.

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The government has barred the exports of meats from 21 plants being investigated, but that has not fully allayed concerns of the countries it exports to.

Switzerland has banned imports from four Brazilian meat processing facilities as part of Europe-wide safety measures, Swiss authorities said on Tuesday. The Ministries of Health, Trade, Local Government, Customs and Excise Division and the Consumer Affairs Division are also collaborating to protect consumers from potentially unsafe meat.

As a precautionary measure, all imported corned beef that is now on the shelves will be withdrawn.

Some of the world's biggest meat consuming countries have slapped restrictions on meat being exported from Brazil's food conglomerates JBS S.A. and ERF.

Brazil's Agriculture Minister will met with foreign ambassadors on Monday to reassure them and try to prevent trade sanctions. "The (agriculture) ministry has a huge job ahead of it", he said. China is the biggest export market for Brazilian meat, buying about a third of the US$5.5 billion of beef shipped from Latin America's largest economy past year.

Minister Rambharat said that shortly, the public would be advised about action to be taken regarding Brazilian meat products- particularly corned beef already in Trinidad and Tobago.