MAPUTO, The Mozambican government has announced a temporary ban on the import of Brazilian meat and of imported chicken from anywhere in the world.

The decision announced here Thursday follows a Brazilian federal police operation codenamed “Carne Fraca” (“Rotten Meat”) aimed at fighting corruption and crimes against public health in the Brazilian meat trade.

The Brazilian police uncovered a scandal whereby certain meat companies used food additives (such as ascorbic acid or sodium nitrate) to disguise the fact that their meat was becoming rotten, or had passed its expiry date.

These food additives are authorized for use in many countries, including Mozambique, and, when used correctly, present no threat to the health of consumers. However, in Brazil, the additives were being used to disguise the true state of the meat, and make it appear fresh and thus fit for human consumption.

The National Director of Trade, Zulmira Macamo, told journalists here Thursday that a team from the Ministries of Industry and Trade, Agriculture, and Health, and from the Tax authority (AT) had checked across the country to see what Brazilian imports were being sold on the Mozambican market.

They found no meat imports from Brazil but between October and February, 360 tonnes of Brazilian chickens (whole chickens and chicken pieces) had been imported. Most of these imports came from the companies BRF and Seara International, which had been cited in the “Carne Fraca” investigations.

The government has decided to suspend temporarily the import of all meat from Brazil, and all chickens from anywhere. Macamo explained THAT this is because Brazilian chickens are sent all over the world, and are often re-packaged and re-exported. Thus chickens labelled as from South Africa or from European countries could, in reality, be OF Brazilian oriigin.