News roundup: Brazilian companies allegedly bribed inspectors to export tainted meat
The Brazilian meat industry has been rattled by allegations that multiple meat processors, including companies JBS and BRF, and politicians bribed inspectors to certify meat that was unsuitable for consumption. The meat was either rotten or tainted with Salmonella. Here are the latest updates since last week.
March 17: Brazilian government launched a raid on meat producers last week after a two-year investigation into the alleged illegal activities. Some of the tainted meat was used in Brazilian public school lunches, while other shipments were meant for overseas markets.
More than 300 court orders were served during the “Operation Weak Flesh Raids,” with 194 search warrants, 27 detentions and 77 police interrogations. Two JBS employees and three BRF employees were arrested, police said. JBS issued a statement noting that none of the company’s executives were targeted and that the company meets international standards.
March 18: An executive at BRF was detained for questioning. Roney Nogueira, a government relations executive with BRF, turned himself into police for questioning at Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo, according to a BRF spokesman.
Both BRF and JBS took out full-page ads and issued statements distancing themselves from the investigation. The companies said separately that the investigations involved smaller companies and did not include their brands.
"Quality is the foremost priority of JBS and its brands," read one of the company’s full-page advertisements in publications that included the major dailies of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
March 20: Brazilian President Michael Tener and his agriculture minister met with diplomats from European and other countries to assert that Brazilian slaughterhouses were properly audited and Brazilian meat was safe to eat.
“This is an urgent issue since it has repercussions for us internally and abroad,” Temer told reporters. “We spoke with embassies so that they could pass the word onto their governments in regards to any concern from the previous days. I invite everyone to go out to a Brazilian steakhouse now.”
Several countries, including the United States, have asked Brazil for more information about the scandal. Bloomberg has reported that China has temporarily blocked Brazilian beef exports.