Brazilian president defends meat processors amid rotten meat scandal

Brazilian meat inspectors are alleged to have allowed rotten meat to be exported.

Brazil’s president has met ambassadors from countries that import the country’s meat, seeking to minimise damage from a major corruption probe.

Meatpackers are alleged to have bribed dozens of inspectors to keep rotten meat on the market.

President Michel Temer told the diplomats that Brazil’s “government wants to reiterate its confidence in the quality of our national product”.

Mr Temer set up the meeting with ambassadors following inquiries from the European Union and China over the scandal.

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.

The president said that only 33 of the 11,000 inspectors at the agriculture ministry were being investigated for allegedly taking bribes to overlook meatpackers using chemicals to improve the appearance and smell of expired meat.

Some of the bad meat was exported to Europe, investigators have said.

Mr Temer told the ambassadors the ministry would soon release a list of countries that could have received rotten meat as well as the name of the meatpackers responsible.

Authorities say that out of the 4,800 meatpacking facilities subject to federal inspection in Brazil, 21 are under investigation, including units of the two big companies JBS and BRF.

Police said on Friday the two-year investigation had discovered that part of the money allegedly paid by JBS and BRF was channelled to two of Brazil’s major political parties, including Mr Temer’s.

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