21 March 2017
Brazilian police have uncovered a scandal in the meat industry. Some meatpackers bribed inspectors and politicians to overlook processing of rotten meat and meat with traces of salmonella.  The police were conducting a two-year probe code named ‘Operation Weak Flesh’. Police investigators named BRF, JBS and dozens of smaller companies of alleged bribery of health inspectors to hide unsanitary conditions in plants. JBS is the world’s largest beef exporter, and BRF, the world’s top poultry producer. Last year Brazil exported US$6.9 billion of poultry and US$5.5 billion of beef worldwide.
The scandal deals a big blow to the sector that has thrived during two years of recession.
China, Chile, South Korea and the European Union are the major importers of Brazilian meat products. They have suspended some imports. Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries and Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy are some other importers. They are monitoring the situation closely.
Brazilian authorities are not trying to cover up the scandal. They suspended more than 30 senior civil servants who should have spotted the illegal practices. They are being investigated for corruption. Federal police raided 94 locations, deploying more than 1,000 officers. Three meat-packing plants have been closed and another 21 are being investigated. There are 4,837 licenced meatpackers in Brazil.
President Michel Temer said that last year, 853,000 consignments of animal products were exported, and only 184 of them were found by importers to be in violation.