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Brazil tells meat importers its food safety standards improved -minister

SAO PAULO, March 13 (Reuters) - Brazil has improved its food
safety standards and is working with trade partners to prevent
importers from banning Brazilian meat products in the fallout
from an inspection bribery scandal, Agriculture Minister Blairo
Maggi said on Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Latin America
World Economic Forum in São Paulo, Maggi said it was possible
some meatpacking plants could be banned by importing countries
due to new investigations of companies accused of evading safety
checks and bribing inspectors to conceal problems.

Last week, Maggi's ministry pre-emptively suspended meat
exports by plants in the towns of Rio Verde and Mineiros, in
Goias state, and Carambeí, in Paraná state.

All belong to food processor BRF SA, which was
the main target of the third phase of the so-called Weak Flesh

The suspension concerns shipments to 12 countries that
require specific controls for the Salmonella spp bacteria,
including South Africa, South Korea and the European Union.

"Europe is very critical of Brazil since the first phase of
the Weak Flesh probe," Maggi said. "We've been telling them we
raised the bar and are enforcing stricter controls."

Asked whether the probe could be expanded, Maggi said there
are several lines of investigation, and new evidence may surface
from testimony given by individuals cooperating with authorities
through plea bargain agreements.
(Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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