Spokesman confirms China suspended imports of Brazil beef

BEIJING — A spokesman for China's commerce ministry confirmed Thursday his government has banned imports of Brazilian beef.

Brazil's agriculture minister said earlier China suspended imports after investigators accused Brazilian inspectors of taking bribes to overlook expired meat and chemicals. But until now Chinese officials have said only that they took unspecified precautions.

"The responsible departments of the Chinese government have taken timely and temporary measures to suspend the import of beef from Brazil," said the spokesman, Sun Jiwen, at a regular briefing.

A written version of Sun's comment given to reporters repeated the official statement that Beijing was taking "temporary measures," with no mention of an import ban.

The Chinese food safety agency, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, has yet to respond to questions about what action it is taking.

Brazilian investigators say health inspectors also were bribed to overlook other products that were added to meat to improve its appearance and smell.

Other governments including the European Union, Japan and Mexico have limited or banned imports of Brazilian meat.

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