The European Union is punishing Brazil for alleged deficiencies in the country’s control system by banning imports from 12 BRF S.A. poultry plants.

Brazil is the world’s second-largest poultry producer, and its Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi promises to take the EU to the World Trade Organization’s (WTO’s) Dispute Settlement Body. He says the EU is lying when the organization says its ban on Brazilian poultry is based on health or sanitation issues.

The WTO, with 164 member countries, is an intergovernmental organization that regulates international trade.

BRF S.A. is a Brazilian company. BRF is one of the biggest food companies in the world, with over 30 brands in its portfolio, among them Sadia, Perdigão, Qualy, Paty, Dánica, and Bocatti.

Maggi says if Brazil pays a tariff, its poultry imports to the EU are rated as fresh meat, and sanitary requirements are reduced from 2,600 kinds of bacteria down to two.

About 7.3 percent of the chicken consumed in EU countries originates in Brazil. The South American nation accounted for about 30 to 35 percent of the poultry imported recently by the EU.

Brazil says the EU ban on the country’s poultry is unfounded as protection over public health risks and disproportioned under the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement.

The EU ban on imports from the BRF S.A. plants coincides with the resignation of J.A. Drummond Jr., as the company’s chief executive officer. He also resigned from the BRF Board of Directors. CFO Lorival Nogueira Luz Jr. took over as the BRF’s interim CEO.

BRF S.A. is a poultry and meat processor. Along the multinational JBS S.A., its been caught up in the investigation by Brazil’s Federal Police into bribery of meat inspectors and other government officials.

Brazil’s WTO complaint has not yet been filed with the Geneva-based organization, and it is not on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body. WTO’s purpose is “to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.”

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