By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Trying to calm fears that tainted meat may have been exported abroad, Brazil’s President Michel Temer met with a group of 33 ambassadors from major meat importing countries that the great majority of Brazil’s meats is of excellent quality.
Temer that the federal government would be creating a task force to look into those meatpacking plants accused by the federal police. after the meeting the president invited his guests out for dinner to a typical all-you-can-eat churrascaria Brazilian steakhouse.
“The federal government wants to reiterate its confidence in the quality of our national product. This standard of excellence is that over time has opened the doors of more than 150 countries, with permanent audit, monitoring and risk assessment,” said President Temer during the meeting with ambassadors.
According to officials, the federal government will speed up audits of the 21 meat packing plants mentioned in Operação Carne Fraca (Weak Flesh Operation), which was launched by the Federal Police last Friday (March 17th).
Among those companies under investigations are meat giants JBS and BRF. Analysts fear the latest scandal will significantly affect Brazil’s meat exports.
Yet according to Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi the problems revealed last week only touches on a very small part of the Brazilian meat industry. Maggi told ambassadors that the Brazilian agricultural production is an extensive chain that employs more than six million people in the country and that Brazil has over 4,800 meat packing plants.
“The Federal Police has initiated an investigation, this investigation will continue. We can not accept that the great majority of the companies and servers that make up this great business that is Brazilian agriculture are put in check by few people,” Maggi told the foreign representatives.
Of the 21 units investigated, only six shipped products to the international market, according to officials.
Maggi also promised that the Ministry would release the names of the companies involved, the products they exported and the countries that received the exports.
According to local media food safety agencies in the U.S., European Union and China have requested additional information from the Brazilian government related to the investigations.