The Government of Brazil is planning to introduce a self-monitoring system for agricultural producers and meat packers, following an inspection scandal that hurt its business with core markets.

Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said the government plans to send draft legislation on self-monitoring to Congress for approval in the first half of this financial year.

In an interview with Reuters, Dias said: “Why can’t Brazil do self-monitoring when Europe and the United States use it?”

The country’s meat exporting industry, which is the world’s largest, came under federal scanner for its alleged involvement in bribery to overlook unsanitary conditions.

“Our agriculture sector can provide guarantees. Just because of one episode we shouldn’t demonise Brazil’s food industry.”

This scandal threatened the country’s about $15bn exports to markets such as China and Europe where shipments were halted pending a review of its inspection protocols.

Dias told the news agency: “Our agriculture sector can provide guarantees. Just because of one episode we shouldn’t demonise Brazil’s food industry.”

Major Brazilian meatpacking companies JBS and BRF have been both implicated in the scrutiny.

The federal probe started in 2017 and was expanded in 2018.

It is scrutinising the relations between food companies and laboratories that are required to certify the safety of meat being exported to markets such as Japan, the Middle East and Europe.

The Agriculture Minister is yet to commence negotiations with the European Union over lifting the ban on its chicken imports, as the new Brazilian government is still drafting its policies.

Dias added: “We have to find a middle ground going forward because Brazil cannot lose markets. What we need is to open new markets.”