BRASILIA – President Michel Temer guaranteed on Sunday Brazilian society and the ambassadors of about 20 countries that buy the country’s meat that those products are healthy and that the criminals that had been adulterating them had been stopped.
In an unusual move on a Sunday afternoon, Temer welcomed about 20 ambassadors from among the 150 nations that import Brazilian meat to Planalto Palace in response to doubts raised after it was revealed that certain companies were adulterating spoiled meat to hide the odor, then selling it both in the local market and to foreign buyers.
The president guaranteed that the investigations into the matter had allowed authorities to bust a “small” group of people engaging in the practice and he emphasized the rigorous controls in place on Brazilian meat products, saying that they “have been recognized by all importers.”
He said that of 4,837 companies in the sector, just 21 are under suspicion for adulterating their products and only about 30 of the country’s 10,000 health inspection officials are implicated in the scheme.
“The aim of the investigation is not the Brazilian health monitoring system, but a few deviations in conduct by a few officials and a few firms,” he said.
“To reassure our friends,” he said, last year some 853,000 shipments of meat were sent abroad and only 184 “had problems, either with their labeling or for minor matters, but in no case for their quality.”
He acknowledged, however, that six of the investigated companies exported products within the past year and he promised that the countries receiving those products will be informed in the matter as of Monday.
Temer also said that the facilities of all meat processing firms in Brazil “are open for inspections or visits by the importing countries” and he even invited the envoys to dine Sunday evening in a Brasilia restaurant renowned for its meat dishes.
Brazil’s Federal Police had reported that the meatpacking firms under investigation had been selling expired meats, disguising the at times rancid odor of the product with ascorbic acid and then bribing inspectors at the Agriculture Ministry to authorize the product for sale locally or abroad.
Brazil is the world’s main exporter of beef and chicken and ranks fourth in pork exports, and last year the three sectors accounted for 7.2 percent of the country’s trade, valued at $11.6 billion.