RIO DE JANEIRO — The United States on Thursday suspended imports of fresh beef from Brazil because of safety concerns, dealing a blow to one of Brazil’s biggest industries just months after Brazilian investigators accused food inspectors of accepting bribes.
In a statement announcing the decision, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said, “Ensuring the safety of our nation’s food supply is one of our critical missions.”
“My first priority is to protect American consumers,” Mr. Perdue added.
A number of countries suspended Brazilian meat imports in March after a two-year investigation by Brazil’s Federal Police led to the arrests of dozens of federal inspectors who were accused of accepting bribes to allow expired meats to be sold and falsifying sanitary permits.
Brazil’s agriculture minister, Blairo Maggi, said at the time that investigators had made crucial mistakes and called the inquiry “a punch in the stomach.” Since March, the United States has been inspecting 100 percent of Brazilian meat imports, the Department of Agriculture said, and has turned away 11 percent of the country’s fresh beef products — a significantly higher proportion than the 1 percent of imports normally refused from other countries.