Consumer jitters have emerged amid the growing scandal involving a popular Brazilian food exporter that has been accused of distributing rotten meat. Seoul has tentatively suspended the sale of chicken imports from the Brazilian company in question.
This is a cold storage facility for imported chicken in Gyeonggi-do Province. Brazilian chicken meat fills up an entire wall of the warehouse. Chicken imports totaled 107-thousand tons last year. Of this total, imports from Brazil accounted for over 80 percent or some 88-thousand tons. Half of this amount was exported by the Brazilian firm BRF, which is caught up in the latest meatpacking scandal. Brazilian chicken is about 30 percent cheaper than Korean chicken and is typically used in processed foods such as burger patties and canned goods. Amid growing consumer jitters, the Seoul government has tentatively suspended the distribution and sale of chicken imports from BRF.
[Soundbite] Official from Chicken Importer(Voice modified) : "It's an unprecedented incident in the 20 year history of imported meat. There has never been a distribution suspension."
The percentage all imported chicken subject to a visual check by officials has been raised from one percent to fifteen percent.
[Soundbite] Hong Gi-ok(Ministry of Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs) : "Disqualified products are all weeded out during the import process. We can assure safety."
The government also said it conducted random testing on 12 percent of Brazilian chicken imports last year but did not find any inadequate products.