The Brazilian Minister of Agriculture has confirmed that authorities are busy tracing 5,000 containers of Brazilian meat that are en-route to export markets around the world.

Blairo Maggi, the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, spoke with global media today, including Agriland, to clarify issues surrounding the recent scandal in Brazil.

"At the moment we have about 5,000 containers which are on ships travelling towards their final destinations, to many different markets.

Basically, we are tracing every single container in order to establish if any of these containers came from one of the plants mentioned in the investigation.

"Because if they have, they will be returned to Brazil. The ones that haven't – which is basically most of the containers – we hope will follow on to their final destination and actually make it to that market.

"As far as the export volumes are concerned, only six companies were actually were authorised to ship such containers.

"So we are actually quite relaxed about this, because it is quite easy for us to do this control," he said.

Currently 21 meat processing plants in Brazil are under investigation, but Maggi doesn't believe that the number of plants under investigation will expand.

The Brazilian Minister for Agriculture confirmed to Agriland that authorities in Brazil are intensifying their efforts to monitor the meat processing industry, in order to prevent a similar scandal occurring in the future.

The Minister was also quick to point out that only a handful employees from the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, which employs over 11,000 staff, were involved in the scandal.

The employees under investigation will be punished accordingly, he added.

Countries around the world ban Brazilian meat imports

Hong Kong, the second-largest importer of Brazilian meat in 2016, has followed China’s lead and has temporarily banned imports of meat from the South American country, according to reports from international news agency Reuters.

Some of China’s largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves, in response to the deepening crisis, it added.

This follows similar bans, which have been implemented by Japan, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico and Chile over recent days.