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EU says Brazil must 'restore trust' in meat exports

[RIO DE JANEIRO] The European Union's health commissioner said Monday that Brazil will have to "restore trust" in its meat exports after being hit by a scandal over expired meat being passed off as fresh.

"I expect that (the Brazilian authorities) will understand that it's up to them to act as soon as possible to restore trust in the official control system," said commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis as he began a visit to Rio de Janeiro.

"I expect good cooperation and mutual understanding. I expect effective solutions," he told AFP.

Mr Andriukaitis, whose visit was already planned before the scandal broke on March 17, will meet Brazilian agriculture minister Blairo Maggi on Tuesday.

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Brazil, the world's top beef and poultry exporter, has been rocked by investigators' accusations that 21 meat processing companies used chemicals to hide the smell of rotting meat and bribed health inspectors to pass off their products as safe.

Brazil's average daily meat exports plunged 19 per cent in a week, or US$11.7 million, according to the trade ministry.

Several countries have slapped restrictions or suspensions on Brazilian imports, though key markets including China have already reopened their doors, blocking only meat from the plants under investigation.

The EU has also barred imports from the plants in question.

"This kind of crisis always affects people's trust," Mr Andriukaitis said.

"The EU has the highest safety standards. We will follow our agenda and our own standards. We have proposed to Brazil to introduce measures that would help to restore trust."