Slovakia’s Chief Hygienist Orders Inspections amid Brazil Meat Scandal

(Stock photo by TASR/AP)

Bratislava, March 22 (TASR) – Slovakia’s Chief Hygienist Jan Mikas on Wednesday ordered extraordinary inspections to be performed at various facilities that provide meals, including schools, in response to the Brazilian spoiled meat scandal, TASR learnt on the same day.

An official notification concerning Brazilian meat fraud was delivered to the Slovak Public Health Authority on Wednesday by the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

“The extraordinary inspections will be aimed at identifying the origin and ability to trace meat and meat products and at verifying whether they are harmless to health and in accordance with valid legislation. If any actual findings or suspicions involving possible violations of legislative requirements emerge, necessary measures will be adopted immediately,” said the Slovak chief hygienist.

Meanwhile, the Slovak Food Chamber (PKS) also on Wednesday stated that the risk of spoiled food getting onto the Slovak market especially concerns imports from countries with different hygiene and veterinary standards.

PKS director Jarmila Halgasova also stressed that Slovakia in many respects has even stricter hygiene standards than other EU-member countries, so it’s unlikely that a similar scandal concerning Slovak food could emerge. Nonetheless, there’s a need to ensure that risky food doesn’t find its way into Slovakia as a result of international trade treaties such as CETA and TTIP. Therefore, it’s necessary to ensure that the chapter on imports of agricultural and food products from MERCOSUR countries is excluded from the prepared EU trade treaty with the South American economic bloc, added Halgasova.

Earlier in the day, Slovak Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) announced that the results of laboratory tests in Slovakia of Brazilian meat products should be known on Thursday or Friday at the latest.

At the same time the minister stressed that customers in restaurants have the right to inquire about the origin of meat in their meals.

The Agriculture Ministry on Tuesday announced that it has launched via the State Veterinary and Food Directorate major inspections aimed at all animal products imported from Brazil in response to the rotten meat scandal in the South American country. In addition, the ministry has banned retail outlets in Slovakia from selling Brazilian meat until it obtains the results of the laboratory tests, with targeted inspections to be performed until further notice.

A two-year operation conducted by the Brazilian Federal Police recently resulted in charges of corruption and bribery being pressed against more than 100 people, including 33 inspectors who greenlighted the sale of rotten and salmonella-tainted meat. In addition, the authorities in Brazil have suspended work at 21 meat-packing plants and ordered the immediate closure of three meat-producing plants.

Accusations have been levelled against major Brazilian companies, including BRF, which is the world’s largest poultry producer, and the world’s largest beef producer JBS. The accused producers allegedly used acids and other substances to mask rotten meat. In some cases, potatoes, water and even cardboard were also added to meat with the aim of boosting profits. Meanwhile, some meat consignments designed for export were found to be infected with salmonella.