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BRUSSELS, March 24 (Reuters) - EU veterinary experts recommended reinforced checks on imports of meat from Brazil on Friday after an investigation began there into bribery of food inspectors.
Chief veterinary officers from the European Union’s 28 member states met in Brussels to discuss an EU response to the scandal and the risk of rotten or contaminated meat entering the bloc.
The European Commission said on Monday it would block meat shipments from processing plants under investigation and that all consignments from them en route to Europe would be rejected and returned to Brazil.
A Commission spokesman said on Friday that experts counted on a swift reaction from Brazilian authorities and that control of imports was now “paramount”.
“The experts said it was of grave importance to have good controls at the entry to the EU,” an EU source familiar with the talks said. “Their view is that physical and microbiological checks should be strengthened significantly.”
European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for health and food safety, will be in Brazil on Monday to discuss the issue with Brazil’s agriculture minister.
The Commission would also meet member states in a body called the PAFF (Plant, Animal, Food and Feed) committee on Wednesday to ensure there is a common approach to checks.
“In the light of the outcome of these reinforced checks and the evolution of the crisis and the response of the Brazilian authorities to the demands for corrective measures, the Commission and the member states will conclude if future measures are necessary,” the Commission spokesman said.
The Commission also plans to perform audits of the food industry in Brazil by mid-May. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek/Rith Pitchford)