Most Zimbabweans have reacted with outrage after revelations by the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) on Tuesday that the country’s food outlets are selling Brazilian chicken imports, most likely preserved with chemicals usually used to preserve corpses.
Speaking before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce on Wednesday, ZNCC deputy president Davison Norupiri said the chemicals are meant to preserve the chickens so that they are still fresh on arrival in the country.
In an interview with Newsday newspaper later, Norupiri said the issue of the “embalmed” chickens from Brazil took center stage at the just-ended Zimtrade Conference in Zambia, where COMESA Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya said the Zambian government has already stopped importing such chicken.
The chemicals, believed to be a mixture of formaldehyde, methanol, and other solvents, are said to be mostly used on gizzards and chicken livers.
The ZNCC, which was invited by parliament to speak on the state of the local poultry industry, emphasized the need to promote local brands instead of opting for imports, which may use unorthodox methods on their products.
Business-operator and former ZNCC Bulawayo regional manager Bulisani Ncube said consumers should be fore-warned of the chemical components in these chickens before purchasing them.
Meanwhile, the Brazilian Poultry Association (UBABEF), which represents the Brazilian poultry industry, told Studio 7 the Brazilian chicken produced and exported by the country’s companies does not use any chemicals for preservation.
Ricardo Santin, the UBABEF Director for Market Relations says the chicken produced in Brazil is exported to over 150 countries around the world, always frozen.
He says the freezing and storage process at adequate conditions guarantee high quality and safety of the exported Brazilian chicken.
“Today, Brazil is the world's largest poultry exporter, due to the high standards of quality and safety involved in all stages of the Brazilian poultry chain” added Santin.
He added that the Brazilian poultry exporters are proud to know that their products are consumed by the Zimbabwean families, and guarantee that their chickens exported to all markets around the world follow strict rules that ensure that safe, healthy and affordable products to offer consumers.