* No.1 hypermarket chain Sun Art removes Brazil beef from stores
* Wal-Mart, Metro arms also pull Brazil products -sources
BEIJING, March 22 (Reuters) - Some of China’s largest food suppliers have pulled Brazilian beef and poultry from their shelves in the first concrete sign that a deepening scandal over Brazil’s meat processing industry is hitting business in its top export market.
The moves by Sun Art Retail Group, China’s biggest hypermarket chain, and the Chinese arms of global retail giants Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Metro AG come days after China temporarily suspended Brazilian meat imports.
Safety fears over Brazilian meat have grown since 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.
A spokeswoman for Sun Art Retail, which operates 400 Chinese hypermarkets, said on Wednesday the chain had removed beef supplied by top Brazilian exporters BRF SA and JBS SA from its shelves from Monday. Brazilian beef accounts for less than 10 percent of Sun Art’s beef supply, she said.
Wal-Mart has also removed Brazilian meat products from its stores, said a person familiar with the matter. He declined to be quoted because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Germany’s Metro has withdrawn Brazilian chicken legs and wings from its Chinese stores, said a manager, who declined to be named as he was not allowed to speak to media. The retailer, with 84 stores in China, does not sell Brazilian beef.
While Brazilian officials sought late on Tuesday to reassure consumers that the investigation had revealed only isolated incidents of sanitary problems, the reaction by Chinese retailers suggests that the probe could have far-reaching repercussions for the world’s top meat exporter.
Hong Kong, the second-biggest buyer of Brazilian meat last year, has also issued a ban on imports, following similar steps by Japan, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.
Reporting by Beijing Newsroom and Dominique Patton; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell