The Brazilian company BRF paid private laboratories to issue fake certificates claiming that its products were free of salmonella, according to a federal police investigation. The firm's shares were 15% down in the local stock market.
Police officials said that investigators found e-mails exchanged between BRF's employees and the private laboratories about the false certificate. One of the messages was from a worker from the firm's quality sector.
"It became evident that BRF wanted to prioritize profits," said Maur?cio Mascardi, one of the police chiefs, in a press conference.
The Brazilian Federal Police said that the e-mails reveal that all of BRF's areas participated in the scheme, including former directors and the former president, Pedro de Andrade Faria, who left the company in November.
A representative from the Ministry of Agriculture said that three plants from BRF were blocked from exporting to 12 countries that demand strict control of salmonella in food products. The three plants operate in the cities of Carambe?, Rio Verde and Mineiros.
The Ministry stated that there is no way to measure the potential effects of the decision on Brazilian meat exports and said that other certificates issued to BRF are also under analysis.