Brazilian authorities on Tuesday began scouring meat plants closed after a probe into corruption by health inspectors and the alleged sale of rotten products, as Hong Kong dealt a blow to the world's top beef and poultry exporter with an import ban.
Brazilian President Michel Temer's government has moved quickly since Friday to both address and downplay the scandal in the meatpacking industry, one of the bright spots of an economy struggling with its worst recession on record.
It won a victory earlier on Tuesday when South Korea lifted a ban imposed a day earlier on all poultry imports from BRF, the world's largest exporter of that meat.
But Hong Kong's ban, which followed China's decision to block imports of meat from the South American nation, showed the crisis was still not contained. China is the largest consumer of Brazilian meat, followed by Hong Kong.
The European Union also kept its ban on meat coming from four specific plants, while Chile maintained its total import ban. The U.S. Department of Agriculture started testing all shipments of raw beef and ready-to-eat products from Brazil for pathogens.
Brazil's meat investigation is the latest involving federal police and prosecutors and comes on the heels of a massive corruption scandal involving billions of dollars in political kickbacks made by construction giants to win contracts with state-controlled firms, especially the oil company Petrobras.
That probe has ensnared scores of top politicians, including several ministers in Temer's center-right government.