Rotten beef sold by top companies in Brazil

Stink of Brazil meat corruption scandal puts off China and South Korea

But according to Agriculture Minister, Blairo Maggi the problems revealed last week only touches on a very small part of the Brazilian meat industry.

In a major operation last Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants and accused some major meatpacking companies of widespread bribery of health inspectors to hide unsanitary conditions.

Brazilian President, Michel Temer, created a task force in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply which has already put the 21 slaughterhouses involved in the Federal Police's Carne Fraca operation under a "special inspection regime".

Mr Temer said the plants under scrutiny represented a tiny proportion of Brazil's meat industry.

More than 80 per cent of the 107,400 tonnes of chicken that South Korea imported a year ago came from Brazil, and BRF supplied nearly half of that. JBS is the world's largest beef exporter, and BRF produces the most poultry in the world.

Earlier in the day, Bloomberg News had reported that Brazilian beef products now on the way to China would not get clearance at customs, citing a source who was notified of the decision.

Brazil is still reeling from massive graft scandals involving state-controlled oil company Petrobras (PETR4.SA) and construction and engineering firm Odebrecht.

"We are major importers of Chilean products: fish, fruit and other products, and Brazilians demand that we should erect barriers".

The South American nation exports its meat to more than 150 countries, with principal markets as far apart as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.

One of the country's largest meat processors, BRF, said it was cooperating with the police investigation and stressed that it followed high sanitary and food safety controls. However, both JBS and BRF have denied the allegations against them.

JBS said: "The company vehemently repudiates any adoption of practices related to the adulteration of products".

"My freezer at home is full of meat, and I don't know what to do", said Maria Fonseca, a saleswoman.

A year ago the European Commission bowed to pressure from Ireland and other member states and removed beef from its proposed trade deal with South America.

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