Brazil tries to contain damage from meat scandal

"We have to consider the scale of this alleged fraud and the reported extent of official involvement because it appears very considerable indeed and that has to mean a systemic problem which can only be countered by a systemic and independent investigation and verification of the produce that the Brazilians have been exporting", he said.

In a major operation last Friday, police issued 38 arrest warrants and accused some major meatpacking companies of widespread bribery of health inspectors to hide unsanitary conditions.

Mr Temer called an emergency meeting on Sunday with ambassadors of several countries. But Francisco Turra, head of Brazilian beef producers association ABPA, told reporters it had put the entire meat industry in jeopardy and "destroyed" a hard-won image of quality products.

More than 80 per cent of the 107,400 tonnes of chicken that South Korea imported a year ago came from Brazil, and BRF supplied nearly half of that.

Brazilian authorities launched raids in six states on Saturday, after a two-year investigation.

The developments represent a major blow to Brazil, one of the world's largest exporters of meat, which is struggling to emerge from its worst recession in decades.

According to police reports, the meat companies could also chose the inspectors they wanted to visit their plants.

The European Union suspended imports from four Brazilian meat processing facilities, ABPA said Monday, citing the nation's agriculture ministry. "What we have are containers there that can't leave the port to local markets".

Meat giants JBS and BRF were among more than 20 companies targeted in the raids.

There were worries, though, that the recent revelations could hurt attempts to negotiate a trade deal between South America's Mercosur group and the European Union. The company says it meets global standards and supports punishing those who do not adhere to regulations.

The claims appear to relate to discovery of frozen meat being used by a small value-adding company where use-by dates on product had expired. "If I lived in the countryside, I'd start raising my own cows and chickens!"

Related News: