Last Updated: 2017-03-20
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BRASILIA, March 20 (NNN-SABC)--Brazil tried to reassure the world on Sunday that its huge meat industry poses no threat with President Michel Temer even inviting ambassadors to a steak dinner, despite allegations that corrupt exporters sold tainted products.

Temer smiled as he invited diplomats to a traditional Brazilian meat restaurant called a churrascaria, saying "if you accept the invitation we will be very happy."

Nineteen of the 33 envoys who met with him accepted the offer.

But Temer had the serious mission of calming a scandal threatening the reputation of the world's biggest beef and poultry exporting nation.

The scare started Friday when police said a two-year probe had found major meat producers bribed health inspectors to certify tainted food as fit for consumption.

At least 30 people have been arrested, with police raiding more than a dozen processing plants and issuing 27 arrest warrants.

A poultry-processing plant run by the multinational BRF group and two meat-processing plants operated by the local Peccin Company were shut down, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Brazilian meat is exported to more than 150 countries, with principal markets as far apart as Saudi Arabia, China, Singapore, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Italy.

Sales in 2016 reached US$5.9 billion in poultry and US$4.3 billion in beef, according to Brazilian government data.--NNN-SABC