Brazilian churrasco may be world-famous among carnivores, but the popular grilled meats are in deep trouble. Two of Brazil’s largest meat producers, JBS and BRF, have become embroiled in a far-reaching scandal in which bribed health inspectors allowed tainted and mislabeled meat to reach the hands and mouths of consumers.
A two-year investigation culminated in a raid of JBS and BRF plants for falsifying sanitary permits and knowingly selling adulterated meats. According to The Economist, these corrupt practices included repackaging meat to change sell-by dates, making turkey out of soybeans instead of actual meat, and the overuse of harmful additives. When all was said and done, Brazilian authorities suspended the activities of 21 meatpacking companies and are investigating 33 inspectors out of 2,300 nationwide.
Shortly after the scandal leaked to the press, China, Japan, Mexico, the European Union (EU), Chile, and South Korea collectively banned some or all imports of Brazilian meat. Together, these countries comprise one-third of the global Brazilian meat market. Although the EU’s new guidelines are not as stringent, China and Chile have completely banned all Brazilian meat from crossing their borders “until further notice.” Shares in both JBS and JSF dropped precipitously over the past week, but not everyone is panicking.
“I keep on buying and eating meat,” Christian Maionchi, 47, who runs a services agency for tourists in São Paulo, told The New York Times. “Two months from now, nobody will remember.”