Mérieux NutriSciences’ labs targeted in Carne Fraca investigation

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock/vikif.
Picture: iStock/vikif.
Three Mérieux NutriSciences labs in Brazil have been targeted as part of an investigation into fraudulent laboratory test results.

The Polícia Federal and Ministério da Agricultura, Pecuária e Abastecimento (MAPA) operation earlier this month was the third part of Operação Carne Fraca which began in March last year.

Operação Trapaça investigated possible irregularities in test results between 2012-16 for products intended for export.

"The companies investigated defrauded inspections by preparing samples through the investigated laboratories that aimed to hide the sanitary conditions of the batches of animals and products, thus avoiding restrictive corrective measures by the Official Inspection Service​ [Serviço de Inspeção Federal/SIF]," said MAPA.

Bioagri: We are cooperating with authorities

Bioagri (part of Mérieux NutriSciences Group) told FoodQualityNews that the food testing laboratories in Maringá, Toledo and São Paulo are cooperating with authorities.

The Maringá unit (previously São Camilo) was acquired in January 2014 and the Toledo site (previously Allabor) bought in December 2015.

“Bioagri (now part of Mérieux NutriSciences Group) and its subsidiaries reiterate their full engagement towards public health and protection of consumers. Since 25 years, they are committed to ensure food safety and quality by strictly applying highest ethics and quality procedures in force in the profession,” ​the firm said in a statement.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply (MAPA) said accreditation of the labs will be suspended until the end of the investigation.

Bioagri Ambiental in Toledo and Maringá and Bioagri Análise de Alimentos in São Paulo were suspended on the day of the operation (5 March).

Leaders of the labs were arrested by the Polícia Federal but they have since been released.

MAPA and other accreditation

MAPA said accreditation of the lab in Maringá was suspended in October 2016 but was approved on 19 February this year under ‘controlled operation’.

Bioagri said accreditation was suspended due to minor non-conformities that were remedied and submitted to the CGAL - General Coordinator of Laboratories Support.

During this period, lab operations legally continued for other accredited activities (INMETRO).

“Due to the ongoing legal procedures, the MAPA accreditation and the INMETRO CGCRE accreditation are temporarily suspended for a maximum period of 30 days in the São Paulo, Maringá and Toledo units.”

Bioagri added it cannot comment further at this stage due to the ongoing court case.

Four plants of BRF, two of them chicken, in Rio Verde (Goiás) and Carambei (Paraná) and one turkey site in Mineiros (Goiás) and a feed mill in Chapecó (Santa Catarina) were also raided.

BRF said it is collecting further details about the operation and is cooperating.

“The company fully complies with Brazilian and international norms and regulations concerning the production and commercialization of its products, and for more than 80 years BRF has demonstrated its commitments to quality and food safety, which are present in all of its operations in Brazil and abroad.”​​

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