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China, Chile and Egypt lift ban on Brazilian meat imports MARKET

(Brasilia-NewsHalal-Jumada II 27, 1438H) After a week of shocks in Brazilian meat industry China, Egypt and Chile lifting their suspension on imports of Brazilian meat on Saturday following clarification of inspection irregularities uncovered in a police investigation into alleged bribery of health officials, Brazil's Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi said.

Chinese authorities will keep the ban in place for only one chicken processing plant in the southern Brazilian state of Parana operated by Seara Alimentos Ltda, another senior Brazilian agriculture official said.

Sources in China also reportedly said that Beijing had forbidden the entry of meat approved by seven Brazilian veterinary experts. Brazilian meat imports have already started being cleared in Shanghai, one of the sources said.

"Lifting the suspension was the result of a giant effort by Brazil to explain that the investigation targeted the conduct of individuals and not the quality of the meat,"Maggi told Reuters.

"China has accepted our explanations and we will continue sending products there without restrictions except for the plants that we ourselves decided to suspend."

Brazil is the top supplier of beef to China, accounting for about 31 percent of its imports in the first half of last year. The second supplier, Australia, is still rebuilding its herd after drought and is not seen as able to meet China's fast-growing demand.

The South American country also supplies more than 85 percent of China's poultry meat imports, according to the United States agriculture department.

Other major producers, such as the United States and some smaller European markets, are banned from supplying to China due to bird flu outbreaks.

Brazil suspended exports from 21 meat processing plants following the federal police investigation in alleged bribery of health inspectors made public last week. Only one is authorized to export directly to mainland China - the plant operated by Seara Alimentos Ltda, which is owned by Brazil's JBS SA , the world's biggest meatpacking company.

On March 20, China suspended imports of all meat products from Brazil, the world's top beef exporter, as a precautionary measure after inspectors there were accused of taking bribes to allow sales of tainted food.

Meanwhile, Egypt said on Saturday it would resume importing meat from Brazil after a brief suspension following allegations that exporters in the Latin American country had sold tainted beef and poultry.

"We suspended it (this week) until we found out what happened and now it's back, but we won't import anything from slaughter houses or factories that have a problem," said Mona Mehrez, a deputy to the agriculture minister.

Brazilian meat exports were worth $63 million a day until last week's announcement by police of"Operation Weak Flesh," which revealed that some meatpackers had paid crooked inspectors to pass off rotten and adulterated meat as safe.

After revelation of the scandal, China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Japan and Egypt blocked the imports of frozen meat from Brazil. Even after lifting of ban by China, there are deep and growing concerns among consumers regarding quality of Brazilian meat.