Whistleblower in Brazil Meat Scandal Takes on Powerful Industry
By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team
Government health inspector Daniel Gouveia Teixeira was responsible for inspecting meat at the Peccin Agro Industrial Ltda plant in Brazil’s Parana state. Three years ago, Teixeira confronted the plant managers with evidence of what he alleged was excess use of marrow, bone, and other slaughterhouse by-products in meat products destined for human consumption. Teixeira was removed as the inspector of that plant and began to suspect he was being undermined by corrupt superiors. Today Teixeira is credited with triggering an investigation into alleged bribes paid by meat companies to food inspectors.
According to police, the bribes were paid to cover up health violations including the sale of rotten and salmonella-contaminated products. At this point in the investigation, police have accused over 100 people receiving bribes and in return allowing the sale of expired products, falsifying documents, and failing to inspect meat plants at all. BRF SA and JBS, two of the world’s biggest food companies, are targets in the investigation but have denied any wrongdoing.
Teixeira cited multiple plants for violations dating back to 2012 but each time he brought up concerns about a particular plant he was reassigned to a new plant by his superior. Teixeira’s superior was arrested by police on March 17 on suspicion of taking bribes from meatpacking companies to move inspectors away from their plants.
One example of improper practices Teixeira discovered was the overuse of “mechanically separated meat” known as “MSM.” MSM is a paste consisting of marrow, bone, skin, nerves, blood vessels, and other scraps and is typically used in very limited quantities for human consumption. In Brazil MSM cannot exceed 60% of the content in sausage and hams. Teixeira allegedly discovered that some plants were using more than 85% MSM. In November 2014, Teixiera was moved out of inspecting meatpacking plants by his superior and was moved to inspecting veterinary medicines. The investigation in Teixiera’s claims is ongoing.
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