Brazil Tainted-Meat Probe Widens as Trade Partners Study Impact

Brazil’s tainted-meat investigation is widening beyond the borders of the world’s biggest beef and poultry producer as trade partners begin their own probes to ensure the safety of the products on store shelves.

Federal authorities said that an investigation revealed 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 contaminated 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.

The European Committee for Health and Food Safety is aware of the investigation and is seeking additional information, according to an emailed statement Sunday. The committee said it hasn’t found any irregularities with health certificates related to meat from Brazil since 2015. China and the U.S. have also requested explanations, O Estado de S. Paulo newspaper reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

Brazilian President Michel Temer is expected to meet with Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi and representatives from the meat production sector Sunday in Brasilia, Agencia Brasil reported.

Executive Arrested

Federal police served hundreds of court orders related to the investigation on Friday, including more than 30 detention warrants, in what local media said was the largest police operation in the country’s history. Roney Nogueira dos Santos, an executive from BRF, was arrested at the international airport in Sao Paulo when arriving from South Africa on Saturday. BRF said in an emailed statement that he surrendered to the authorities and is available to give all clarifications needed.

China and Hong Kong, which together are the biggest foreign market for Brazilian meat, were the destination of a third of the $5.5 billion of beef shipped from Latin America’s…