Moy Park assures consumers in wake of Brazilian meat scandal

Northern Ireland poultry supplier is owned by Brazilian giant JBS, which

Moy Park, one of the largest producers of poultry in Ireland, has assured consumers that none of its products are sourced from the Brazilian plants currently under investigation for exporting contaminated meat to Europe.

The Craigavon-based company, which employs 8,500 people in Northern Ireland, is owned by Brazilian meat giant JBS, which has been implicated in the corruption scandal engulfing the meat industry there.

JBS, which acquired Moy Park in 2015 for €1.32 billion, is one of several companies accused of bribing health officials to forgo inspections and overlook practices including processing rotten meat, albeit it has denied any wrongdoing.

"We do not source products from any of the sites involved in the ongoing investigations in Brazil, " a Moy Park spokeswoman told The Irish Times.

“We have in place robust food safety and quality assurance procedures for all of our raw materials, irrespective of source,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has ramped up calls for a complete ban on Brazilian meats imports to the EU in the wake of the scandal.

"It is incredible that the EU Commission were only made aware of the issue through media reports," IFA national livestock chairman Angus Woods said.

“ Attempts by the authorities to try and confine the scandal to a limited number of establishments are not credible, when the reports indicate that the government inspection and control authorities were operating fraudulently and taking bribes from processors to buy certificates,” he said.

Mr Woods was meeting MEPs and officials from the Commission in Brussels to reiterate the IFA's call for a ban on Brazilian meat imports.

The EU has halted purchases from four Brazil-based facilities but stopped short of imposing a full ban.

EU agricultural commissioner Phil Hogan has, however, promised more "decisive action". China, the largest consumer of Brazilian meat, suspended shipments from the South American country at the weekend.

Around 500,000 tonnes of Brazilian poultry is imported by the EU each year despite the strict tariff regime.

JBS, the world’s largest meat packer, and rival BRF, the world’s largest poultry producer, have seen about about $2.2 billion wiped off the value of the companies since the controversy erupted.

The issue has severely tarnished the reputation of one of Brazil’s flagship industries. Exports of Brazilian meat fell to $74,000 on Tuesday from a daily average of $63 million before the scandal.

JBS is planning a $1 billion IPO of JBS Foods in New York later this year but there is no suggestion the company is planning to pull the flotation as a result of the scandal.

Last year, the European Commission bowed to pressure from Ireland and other member states and removed beef from its proposed trade deal with South America.

The trade deal between Europe and Mercosur, the trading bloc which includes Brazil and Argentina, had been expected to include a more preferential tariff regime for beef imports from Mercosur countries amid concern from producers here that they will not be able to compete with cheaper Brazilian produce.

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times

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