Federal Police in Brazil has indicted 63 people for their role in a vast corruption scheme within the Ministry of Agriculture. The charges allege federal auditors at meat processing facilities took bribes for years in exchange for fraudulent sanitary permits.
The probe into Brazil’s meat corruption was launched March 17, 2017, by Brazil’s Federal Police. Brazil, the world’s largest beef and poultry exporter and the fourth largest exporter of pork, saw its exports drop to near zero within a week of the scandal’s announcement, though most export sales have resumed.
The suspects in the case are charged with falsifying medical records and certificates, tampering with food products, conspiracy and corruption. One employee at a JBS processing plant in Brazil was included in the investigation, allegedly due to his relationship with federal inspectors. The employee was suspended.
Allegations also include selling spoiled meat and injecting water to sell poultry at higher prices. Police also reported that the producers under investigation used ascorbic acid and other chemical ingredients, in quantities far above the legally permitted amount, in order to “disguise the physical aspect or smell of rotten meat.”
No JBS brands or products are associated with product tampering nor has JBS been accused of selling tainted or rotten meat. The majority of this investigation, particularly the food quality issues, focused on the actions of smaller companies in Brazil that supply the domestic market, not JBS.
JBS is the largest meat packer in the world, with subsidiary JBS USA the second largest beef packer in the U.S., with nine beef plants and estimated 2016 sales of $14 billion. JBS USA is not involved in the Brazilian scandal. JBS USA is a “leading processor of beef, pork and lamb in the U.S., a leading processor of beef in Canada and the largest cattle feeder in the world.”