Brazil meat-packing giants 'exported rotten beef'
Brazilian police have carried out raids at the offices of some of the country's biggest meat-packing companies accusing them of selling rotten meat on the domestic market and abroad.
Investigators say JBS and BRF meatpackers bribed health inspectors and other officials to get government certificates for their products.
The companies have been accused of a number of unhygienic practices.
Brazil is the world's largest red meat exporter.
Much of the meat produced by JBS and BRF is exported to Europe and other parts of the world.
Brazilian police said they have evidence of at least 40 incidents involving the two companies.
Chemicals were used to hide signs of deterioration in red meat, they said.
"They used acid and other chemicals to mask the aspect of the product. In some cases, the products used were carcinogenic," said the Brazilian federal police.
In other cases, potato, water and even cardboard paper was mixed with chicken meat to increase profits.
JBS said in a statement that it had followed rigorous quality standards and sanitary regulations.
It confirmed the raids, but said none of its top executives had been targeted.
BRF said it was co-operating with the investigation. The company also denied breeching regulations.
Operation Weak Flesh was launched in the early hours of Friday in six Brazilian states after a two-year investigation.
Brazilian police say 38 arrest warrants have been issued and 194 raids carried out.
More than 1,000 officers took part in the operation.
Prosecutors say a percentage of the bribe money was paid to two parties from the governing coalition: PP and President Michel Temer's PMDB.
Agriculture Minister Blairo Maggi issued a statement saying he had ordered the suspension of 33 government officials accused of involvement with the scheme.
Shares of JBS and BRF have fallen by 10% and 8% respectively in the Sao Paulo stock exchange following the announcement.
JBS is the world's largest beef producer, with a net revenue of $55bn (?44bn). It exports to some 150 countries.
BRF is the world's top poultry exporter.
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