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UPDATE 1-Brazil farm minister vows to introduce self-monitoring of meat plants

Jake Spring and Anthony Boadle

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BRASÍLIA, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The Brazilian government will seek to introduce a self-monitoring system of food producers, a move to align the South American nation with the practices of other countries after a meat inspection scandal hurt key trade relationships, Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said.

In an interview with Reuters on Friday, Dias said the government plans to send draft legislation on self-monitoring to Congress in the first half of this year. It would be introduced gradually across various agricultural products and eventually used for oversight of meatpackers.

She said the self-monitoring is widely used in developed countries like the United States and Europe.

"Why can't Brazil do self-monitoring in Brazil when Europe and the United States use it?" she said.

She said she could not give specifics on what oversight would remain in the hands of the government as it is still under discussion with companies in the food sector.

Deficiencies in Brazil's official controls revealed by a sprawling federal probe into the practices of certain food companies led commercial partners such as the European Union and Russia to ban certain Brazilian suppliers.

The probe, which kicked off in March 2017 and expanded a year later, has examined the relationship between food processors, Agriculture Ministry officials and laboratories with a mandate to certify the safety of meat sold domestically and in markets like China, Japan, the Middle East and Europe. (Reporting by Jake Spring and Anthony Boadle Writing by Ana Mano Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Chizu Nomiyama)