by Eugenia LOGIURATTO
Agence France Presse
BRASILIA, Brazil (AFP) — Brazil tried to reassure the world Sunday that its big meat business poses no menace — with President Michel Temer even inviting ambassadors to a steak dinner — despite allegations that corrupt exporters bought tainted merchandise.
Temer smiled as he invited diplomats to a standard Brazilian meat restaurant known as a churrascaria, saying “if you accept the invitation we will be very happy.” Nineteen of the 33 envoys who met with him accepted the supply.
But Temer had the intense mission of calming a scandal threatening the repute of the world’s largest beef and poultry exporting nation.
The scare began Friday when police stated a two-year probe had discovered main meat producers bribed well being inspectors to certify tainted meals as match for consumption.
At least 30 individuals have been arrested, with police raiding greater than a dozen processing crops and issuing 27 arrest warrants. A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing crops operated by the native Peccin firm have been shut down, the Agriculture Ministry stated.
Brazilian meat is exported to greater than 150 international locations, with principal markets as far aside as Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy. Sales in 2016 reached $5.9 billion in poultry and $four.three billion in beef, in accordance with Brazilian authorities knowledge.
In his tackle to the ambassadors, Temer acknowledged that the scandal had generated “major concern.”
But he insisted that the unhealthy meat and faked certificates occurred in solely “a very few businesses” and didn’t symbolize a wider downside.
Calling Brazil’s inspection system “one of the most respected” on this planet, Temer stated: “I want to reiterate our confidence in the quality of our products.”
In 2016, 853,000 consignments of animal merchandise have been exported, Temer stated, but “just 184 of them were deemed by importers to be in violation.”
Earlier, Luis Eduardo Pacifici Rangel, secretary of agricultural safety, informed reporters that there was “no risk for population, neither for exports.”
Meat processor BRF additionally went on the counter-offensive, taking purpose at allegations that cardboard was combined into rooster merchandise.
“There is no cardboard of any kind in BRF products. There’s been a big misunderstanding in the (audio) recordings of the police,” the corporate stated in a press release.
There have been no stories of individuals made sick because of the alleged practices.
However, Brazil is frightened the scandal will damage makes an attempt to barter a commerce deal between South America’s Mercosur group with the European Union.
The EU ambassador to Brazil, Joao Cravinho, tweeted on Sunday that he needed “complete, urgent clarifications from the agriculture ministry.”
“It really complicates negotiations,” admitted Brazilian beneath secretary common for financial and monetary affairs on the international ministry, Carlos Marcio Cozendey.
He urged that any response to the disaster be “proportionate.”
“I hope that this is not used to unjustifiably close markets,” he stated.
PR marketing campaign
The authorities haven’t but detailed the place tainted merchandise have been discovered, however say that in some instances carcinogenic substances have been used to masks the odor of unhealthy meat.
In addition to the large BRF agency, which owns the Sadia and Perdigao manufacturers, corporations beneath investigation embrace JBS, a world chief in meat gross sales and proprietor of the Big Frango, Seara Alimentos and Swift manufacturers.
JBS took out a full-page advert within the newspaper O Globo to say that the federal workplace conducting the investigation had made no point out of well being issues stemming from JBS merchandise. The BRF group is operating comparable advertisements, saying its merchandise pose no well being danger “whatsoever.”
An advert wherein actor Robert De Niro testifies to the standard of JBS’s Seara ham — with its “authentic Italian flavor” — has gotten heavy play on Brazilian tv.
© Agence France-Presse