By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Although local and international media have highlighted bans on imported Brazilian meats by foreign nations, Brazilian authorities are concerned the decline of meat consumption by Brazilians themselves.
Consumer protection entities are already calling for more caution by consumers or avoidance of brands related to the investigation all together.
The investigation by federal police into tainted meats may lead to a crisis in the meat-producing sector, say analysts, since eighty percent of meats produced in Brazil are consumed domestically. Fearing a widespread decline in consumption, government officials were quickly to react.
“Let us take advantage of this moment and send messages to Brazilian domestic consumers that there is no problem in the consumption of animal products inspected by the Ministry of Agriculture,” said Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi during a news conference on Monday.
“When we say ‘remain calm’ it’s because we know that most of our system, 99 percent of the food producers in Brazil do the thing transparent and serious,” he added. According to Maggi the monitoring system of Brazil’s meat production is ‘robust and strong’.
Consumer protection agencies, however, are warning consumers to look closely at the products before buying, and some are suggesting avoiding all together those companies which have been cited in the investigation.
As a precaution, for example, the IDEC (Brazilian Consumer Defense Institute) recommends that the consumer avoid ultra processed foods made from meats such as sausage, sausage, nuggets, hamburgers, etc.
“These products are industrial formulations made from substances extracted from food, which makes it difficult to identify the origin of the raw material used in its manufacture,” says Ana Paula Bortoletto, nutritionist at IDEC on the entity’s website.
Consumer Association, PROTESTE, goes further: it recommends citizens not to buy products from the companies involved in the irregularities.
“With everything that was disclosed in this operation, our position, given the seriousness of the matter, is to say to the consumer: ‘do not buy products from these companies’,” PROTESTE lawyer and representative Sonia Amaro was quoted as saying to a government news source.
“The consumer, who is the vulnerable part, cannot be sure that the meat will not harm his health. How will they protect themselves? [They] have no way,” she said.