The Brazilian meat scandal has taken Asian fast-food chains for a ride after swine-flu and bird-flu threats that have tampered with consumer demand in Hong-Kong and Seoul. Major fast-food chains in South Korea and Hong Kong have pulled chicken, beef and pork off their menus to reassure customers about food safety. The drastic steps by Burger King and Mom’s Touch in South Korea, and Hong Kong’s top fast food chain Cafe de Coral are aimed at avoiding a customer backlash after Brazilian police accused inspectors in the world’s biggest exporter of beef and poultry of taking bribes to allow sales of rotten and salmonella-tainted meats.
China and Hong Kong are the top two importers of Brazilian meats that buy nearly one-third of the $14 billion worth of meat that Latin America’s largest economy exported.In South Korea, Mom’s Touch, a fried chicken and fast food franchise stopped selling chicken nuggets at its 1,000 stores even after the government lifted a ban of chicken meat from Brazil’s BRF SA, the world’s largest poultry exporter, a day earlier. South Korea ended the ban after just one day after Brazil assured Seoul that shipments did not contain tainted products. The fear of a consumer backlash forced Mom’s Touch to take the drastic steps after retailers removed Brazilian meat from their shelves, said Heo Jun-gyu, a company spokesman.
“It’s dealing a blow to small-and-medium-sized companies like us. It felt like we might be stigmatised if we didn’t follow the suit,” he said.The chain uses BRF chicken for its nuggets and meat from Brazil’s third-largest pork and poultry processor Aurora Alimentos for its chicken burger patty.Burger King Korea stopped selling their Crunch Chicken, which uses both domestic and Brazilian meat, due to consumer fears, a company spokeswoman said.”We are not sure for the moment when we will start selling it again and whether we will replace it with a new menu,” she said.
Top Chinese retailers in the country removed Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves.Hong Kong, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland and South Africa have announced partial or all-out bans on Brazilian meat imports this week, following measures similar to those taken by China, the European Union and Chile.