The Brazilian ag sector is trying to minimize damage both at home and in export markets after allegations of corruption are raised against meat inspectors and accusations of allowing rotten meat into the marketplace.
Brazilian police are conducting raids on meat companies accused of bribing inspectors and politicians to overlook unsanitary practices.
Federal police issued 38 arrest warrants involving the giant meatpackers JBS and BRF in a blow to Brazil’s reputation as one of the world’s leading meat producers.
Michel Temer, president of Brazil, met with dozens of ambassadors from countries that import Brazilian meat, seeking to minimize damage from the allegations.
Temer told the diplomats that Brazil’s “government wants to reiterate its confidence in the quality of our national product.”
He went on to say 33 of the 11,000 employees at the agriculture ministry are being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to overlook meatpackers using chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meat.
Some of the suspected meat did get shipped to a location in the European Union, but Temer was unsure of which country. The European Commission is monitoring meat imports from Brazil and any companies found to be involved in the scandal.
China is also temporarily suspending imports. Brazil exported nearly $7 billion of poultry and $5.5 billion of beef worldwide last year.
The European Commission says it will ensure that any of the establishments implicated in the fraud are suspended from exporting to the EU.