Brazil’s government moved to head off a crisis over allegations that meat exporters had bribed inspectors to approve tainted beef for sale and export by summoning ambassadors to reassure them they have nothing to worry about.
President Michel Temer and his agriculture minister met with top diplomats of the European Union, Sweden, Canada and other countries to say slaughterhouses were being properly audited and that Brazilian meat is safe to eat. Temer said he was headed out for a steak afterward and encouraged others to do the same.
“This is an urgent issue since it has repercussions for us internally and abroad,” Temer told reporters. “We spoke with embassies so that they could pass the word onto their governments in regards to any concern from the previous days. I invite everyone to go out to a Brazilian steakhouse now.”
Temer then dined with 19 ambassadors at a 119 reais ($39) per person all-you-can-eat steakhouse, sitting between the Chinese and Angolan diplomats.
Federal authorities said that an investigation unveiled Friday showed about 40 companies, including JBS SA and BRF SA, had been involved in illicit activities such as bribing inspectors to approve the sale and export of spoiled meat and adding chemical substances to mask the poor quality. While the companies have denied the allegations, including through full-page ads in Brazil’s newspapers and spots on TV, their shares have tumbled at a time when both JBS and BRF are trying to access capital markets again.