Brasília (AFP) – Brazil tried to reassure the world Sunday that its huge meat industry poses no threat despite allegations that major exporters have been selling tainted beef and poultry with falsified inspection certificates.
President Michel Temer held crisis talks in the capital Brasilia with meat industry representatives, Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi and Trade Minister Marcos Pereira. He was then due to meet with foreign ambassadors.
Brazil, the world’s biggest beef and chicken exporter, with clients in some 150 countries, is scrambling to stop the fallout from police allegations of corruption and unsanitary practices in the industry.
Police say meat producers bribed health inspectors for years to certify tainted food as fit for consumption. At least 30 people have been arrested, with police raiding more than a dozen processing plants and issuing 27 arrest warrants.
A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing plants operated by the local Peccin company were shut down, the Agriculture Ministry said.
There have been no reports of people made sick as a result of the alleged practices.
Luis Eduardo Pacifici Rangel, secretary of agricultural protection, told reporters that the quality of Brazilian meat overall was not in doubt.
“The information… is really worrying regarding corruption and the criminal organization that was dismantled by police. But from the sanitary point of view, we are completely confident that the problems mentioned there bring no risk for population, neither for exports,” he told reporters before meeting with Temer.
Meat processors BRF went on the counter-offensive, taking aim at allegations that cardboard was mixed into chicken products.
“There is no cardboard of any kind in BRF products. There’s been a big misunderstanding in the (audio) recordings of the police,” the company said in a statement.
– Fears of trade fallout –
For Brazil, the worry is that the scandal will ruin global appetites for its…