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Brazilian authorities have determined that five laboratories authorised to test for salmonella submitted falsified test results in connection with chicken products from a major Brazilian food exporter.
According to the Reuters News Service, the testing laboratories, each accredited by Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply, allegedly colluded with executives and staff of BRF SA, the world’s largest poultry exporter to evade food safety checks by falsifying test results related to the safety of its industrial food production processes. The fraud was discovered as part of the Carne Fraca (“weak flesh”) Operation, a multi-year-long investigation being led by Brazil’s Federal Police that has uncovered widespread abuse of food safety laws in Brazil and the use of bribes and other forms of coercion of government food inspectors to enable the sale of unsafe food products.
In this latest case, the investigation has led to the arrest of several BRF executives, including the company’s former chief executive, as well as BRF’s vice-president of global operations. A spokesperson for the Federal Police noted that company executives and staff “at all hierarchical levels, from the chief executive to the quality control manager,” were aware of the efforts to compromise food inspection and safety checks.
The Brazilian Agricultural Ministry reportedly received over 400 notifications from 12 countries in 2017 of salmonella-contaminated meat products exported by BFR, with 80 percent of the notifications coming from countries in the European Union (EU). The five, unnamed testing laboratories found to have tested products for BFR have been banned from conducting further food analysis and testing until the conclusion of the Ministry’s investigation into the matter.
The complete text of the Reuters report is available here.