RIO DE JANEIRO, March 18 (Reuters) - 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)