Authorities say that out of the 4,800 meatpacking facilities subject to federal inspection in Brazil, 21 are under investigation, including units of the two big companies JBS and BRF. One of the world's leading producers, Brazil exports $12 billion of meat to about 150 countries.
Brazil's president, Michel Temer, met with dozens of ambassadors from countries that import Brazilian meat on Sunday (19 March) to reassure them the country's beef was safe.
The Brazilian police operation codenamed "Weak Flesh" was likely to deal a heavy blow to one of the few sectors of Latin America's largest economy that has thrived during a two-year recession.
News reports Brazilian federal police claim to have evidence of unhygienic practices of more than 30 companies, among them, JBS and BRF.
But the two companies at the centre of the scandal have denied the allegations.
"Agribusiness for us in Brazil is incredibly important and cannot be devalued by a small group, by a minor thing that can be investigated, regulated and punished if needed", Temer told business leaders in Sao Paulo.
Brazil is the world's biggest red meat exporter.
His calls for a ban were echoed by John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA), the revelations should prompt an immediate ban on Brazilian beef and poultry imports into the European Union until some degree of trust and confidence can be restored.
IFA president Joe Healy said the latest shocking revelations on the failure of Brazil to meet European Union standards and controls in the meat sector raises very serious concerns around European Union meat imports.
"The Brazilian government reiterates its confidence in the quality of a national product that has won over consumers and obtained the approval of the most rigorous markets", said Mr Temer. Its TV spot, which also aired on prime time on the Globo channel, showed photos shared by employees on social media with their freezers filled with BRF products, saying "the food you are consuming in your home is the same food we're consuming with our children".
Chile's Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche confirmed on Twitter that the Chilean Government was imposing a "temporary" ban on meat imports from Brazil.