Food franchises on alert amid Brazil meat scandal

SEOUL-- Food franchises in South Korea are on alert as consumers are refraining from eating chicken on worries over imported Brazilian poultry meat, industry sources said Wednesday.

On Monday, the local authorities imposed a temporary halt on the distribution of Brazilian chicken and announced a recall after foreign media reported on a corruption scandal in Brazil involving major food processing firms who bribed government officials to overlook inspections and let them export rotten meat.

But the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs here lifted the suspension the next day, saying that none of the imported chicken from Brazil was processed at the 21 factories owned by BRF S.A. -- the food processing firm facing the allegations -- that produced the rotten chicken.

Despite the government's reassurance, food franchises are voluntarily taking steps to discard chicken imported from the Latin American country, in order to keep demand intact.

Moms Touch, a native chicken burger franchise that runs over 1,000 stores in the country, said it decided not to use Brazilian chicken.

"It is true that some of our chicken burgers are made with the BRF products. The company's still discussing whether to stop selling them," a spokesperson for the chicken burger franchise said.

Other chicken franchises including KFC and Lotteria said they have no plans to revise their product lineups and will increase using local-made and Danish chicken instead.

Local hypermarket outlets and operators of convenience stores have cut imports of Brazilian chicken in a response to the growing concerns among consumers.

Last year, Korea imported some 88,995 tons of Brazilian chicken, which accounts for 83 percent of the entire imported chicken. Of the figure, some 42,500 tons were processed at five factories run by BRF, according to the government.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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