Polícia Federal launched the third phase of Operation Carne Fraca, called Operation Trapaça, to investigate fraud by companies and laboratories around Salmonella pullorum.
Five labs, three of which were accredited by the MAPA (Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento) and registered with the Serviço de Inspeção Federal (SIF/MAPA), were targeted.
Accreditation of the labs subject of the operation was suspended until the end of the investigation and they may permanently lose it.
One year after initial raids
Four plants of BRF, two of them chicken, in Rio Verde (Goiás) and Carambei (Paraná) and one turkey site in Mineiros (Goiás) and a feed mill in Chapecó (Santa Catarina) were investigated.
Those involved will increase frequency of sampling until the end of the investigation.
Operation Carne Fraca started in March 2017 and 34 people were investigated.
Police raided meat factories following a two-year long probe investigating whether companies paid bribes to inspectors.
A DG SANTE audit of the Brazilian official control system for beef, horse and poultry meat last year found it was not fully or effectively implemented and had ‘numerous shortcomings’.
Exports were suspended to 12 destinations where specific sanitary requirements for control and typing of Salmonella spp are required: South Africa, Algeria, South Korea, Israel, Iran, Macedonia, Mauritius, Tajikistan, Switzerland, Ukraine, Vietnam and European Union.
Selection of RASFF notifications for meat from Brazil 2018
Belgium 7-3-18: Salmonella (presence /25g) in frozen salted chicken half breasts
Germany 5-3-18: Salmonella (present /25g) in frozen salted chicken meat
UK 2-3-18: Salmonella (in 1 out of 5 samples /25g) in frozen salted chicken half breasts
Netherlands 26-2-18: Salmonella (present /25g) in frozen salted chicken half breasts
The joint investigation looked at irregularities in test results by laboratories from 2012-2016. The facilities were responsible for testing products offered for sale to consumers.
It found falsification of results as some samples omitted the presence of Salmonella spp.
"The companies investigated defrauded inspections by preparing samples through the investigated laboratories that aimed to hide the sanitary conditions of the batches of animals and products, thus avoiding restrictive corrective measures by the official inspection service," said MAPA.
BRF cooperating with investigation
BRF said it is collecting further details about the operation and is cooperating.
“The company fully complies with Brazilian and international norms and regulations concerning the production and commercialization of its products, and for more than 80 years BRF has demonstrated its commitments to quality and food safety, which are present in all of its operations in Brazil and abroad.
“The company reiterates that it fully remains at the disposal of authorities, keeping its compromise with full transparency in the communication with its clients, consumers, shareholders, and the market in general.”
Blairo Maggi, Brazil’s agriculture minister, assured people there is no risk in eating poultry meat produced by any company as Salmonella is killed when cooked at a temperature of 60ºC.
Brazilian regulation is different from certain countries that do not allow presence of Salmonella.