Hong Kong’s food safety authority will immediately recall all meat exported to the city by 21 Brazilian companies involved in an investigation over bribery and tainted meat, the food and environmental hygiene minister said on Friday. Dr Ko Wing-man made the announcement after meeting the Brazilian consul general on the same day, during which he was told Brazil had already banned the 21 companies from exporting their meat products. Chaos and confusion: Brazilian meat prices across Hong Kong to ‘shoot up’ in wake of scare, industry warns Brazilian authorities are investigating the meat producers over bribery of inspectors to ensure their meat, which was either rotten or tainted with salmonella, was given the proper certification. The move is a drastic change from the government’s earlier position, where it showed reluctance to recall the questionable meat, saying a citywide seizure would be too difficult to implement. The Centre for Food Safety on Thursday confirmed that all 27 samples of Brazilian meat tested for deterioration and other food safety indicators since Tuesday were found to be satisfactory. Ko did not explain on Friday how the recall would be carried out. He said that the government had found six out of the 21 companies so far. “According to the more detailed information provided by the Consul-General of Brazil, the risk of food safety cannot be totally ruled out,” Ko said. Hong Kong is the biggest market for Brazilian beef, importing US$718 million (HK$5.5 billion) worth of the product in 2016, according to Brazilian government figures. On Friday afternoon, Brazilian meat has been pulled from the shelves in several supermarkets the Post visited in Causeway Bay. A frozen meat vendor surnamed Kan at Bowrington Road Market complained the huge loss due to the investigation. Brazil’s US$10 bn chicken and beef exports reel from scandal “I haven’t seen action against frozen meat of such scale since I started the business forty years ago,” Kan said, as most previous recalls were targeted at live poultry. He said wholesalers are charging vendors 30 per cent more for frozen meat due to the short in supply. “People are now too scared to buy any meat. They would specifically ask if the meat were imported from Brazil,” he said. About 50 per cent of the meat he sold was from Brazil, but now he has to replace it with more pricy Netherlands and Belgium meat. It is not easy to find new suppliers Simon Wong Ka-wo, Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades “The government should give retailers some sort of subsidies,” he added. At the same time, Hongkongers would have to eat less meat in the coming months, as Federation of Restaurants and Related Trades chairman Simon Wong Ka-wo warned the recall will further add to the meat shortage in the market. He expected meat prices to rise 50 per cent from the normal level, as it usually took two to three months for frozen meat from other countries to be delivered to the city. “It is not easy to find new suppliers,” he said, as about 60 per cent of the meat circulated in Hong Kong market were from Brazil. In Sao Paulo, Brazilian meat industry group ABPA said on Friday pork and poultry exports have fallen by US$40 million, or 22 per cent, in the wake of an investigation into alleged corruption among food inspectors that began a week ago. The losses result from partial or complete suspension of Brazilian poultry or pork imports by major markets, such as China and Hong Kong, ABPA head Francisco Turra said in a statement.