RIO DE JANEIRO, March 18 Meat companies JBS SA
and BRF SA took out full-page
advertisements in Brazilian newspapers on Saturday in efforts to
burnish their image a day after police conducted a series of
raids investigating bribes at meatpacking facilities.
Police said the raids, which threaten an industry with $12
billion in annual exports, were prompted by evidence that some
meatpackers had paid inspectors and politicians to overlook the
processing of rotten meat and exports with fraudulent
documentation and even traces of salmonella.
Facing a crisis that even Brazil's government said threatens
its reputation as one of the world's biggest exporters of meat
products, JBS and BRF launched a public
relations offensive to defend the integrity of their practices.
"Quality is the foremost priority of JBS and its brands,"
read an advertisement by JBS, the world's largest meat producer,
in publications that included the major dailies of São Paulo and
Rio de Janeiro, plus the weekly newsmagazine Veja.
In ten bullet points underneath, the company touted its role
as an exporter to more than 150 countries and the certificates
earned and audits passed at facilities throughout Brazil.
In an email, a JBS spokeswoman said the advertisements,
which also include radio and television spots, would run across
27 different media outlets through Monday. The company did not
respond to a Reuters request about the cost of the campaign.
BRF, for its part, ran ads addressing "the millions of
consumers whose confidence we have earned," vowing to adhere to
the principles of "truth, respect, quality and transparency."
Officials at BRF did not immediately respond to requests
about the details of its campaign.
Investors on Friday hammered shares of both companies after
news of the raids. JBS plunged 11.0 percent, while BRF fell 7.0
percent at the Sao Paulo stock exchange.
In their advertisements, and in communiques following the
raids, both companies denied systematic fraud or abuse within
their operations and condemned any wrongdoing that may be
uncovered by the probe.
(Reporting by Paulo Prada; Editing by Marguerita Choy)