The EU has suspended meat imports from four Brazilian exporters in the wake of the corruption allegations that have shaken the Latin American meat industry.

When contacted by just-food, the European Commission would not name the companies but noted that the ban followed Friday’s Brazil federal police announcement that four out of 21 meatpacking companies had manipulated certificates for exports to European markets.

“It is not yet clear how long the suspension of licenses for those meat producers will last. It can be a month, three months or more. It all depends on what results of the investigation process”, a spokesperson for the European Commission on public health and food safety said.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Commission’s regular briefing to journalists in Brussels yesterday, a spokesperson said: “The Commission will ensure that any establishments implicated in the fraud are suspended from exporting to the EU.” He stressed the scandal would not impede trade negotiations under way between the EU and the South American Mercosur bloc, of which Brazil is a member.

However, a Brazil foreign ministry official has told Brazilian newspapers the police allegations “really complicates negotiations”.

Brazil’s meat industry is facing restrictions on its exports from a range of markets. China and Chile are two countries that have suspended imports.

Police in Brazil accuse executives from a number of meat processing companies of paying politicians and inspectors from Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture to overlook unsanitary practices, allowing them to manufacture adulterated products. Police claim ministry officials in the states of Paraná, Minas Gerais and Goiás acted to protect the companies.

Brazil’s federal revenue agency released a statement alleging the corrupt inspections resulted in adulterated products being allowed to be sold for human consumption circulating freely in the domestic market, serve as school snacks or being exported.