SÃO PAULO, Brazil – JBS SA, the world’s largest beef processor, announced plans to take legal action against Greenpeace International following the group’s release of a report that claims JBS is sourcing cattle directly and indirectly from suppliers accused of illegal deforestation, invasion of indigenous areas or use of slave labor.

Retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Sligro Food Group have said they will stop doing business with JBS in response to Greenpeace’s claims. JBS said the report took the company by surprise, but after further review found the report contained “false accusations.”

“The information regarding JBS in the report is false, misleading, incorrect and induces the public to draw erroneous conclusions regarding the reality of the facts,” the company said in a news release. “Due to this, the company will legally challenge Greenpeace and will use all available legal channels to repair the material damage caused to the image of the company through the disclosure of this incorrect information.”

Greenpeace said it tracked cattle from illegal farms in the Amazon to slaughtering facilities and processing plants used by JBS. Processed beef is canned and shipped to Europe for sale. The cans bear a reference number that enabled Greenpeace volunteers to trace the products to the facilities where the illegal cattle were processed.

In 2009, JBS, Minerva SA and Marfrig Alimentos SA signed an agreement with Brazilian prosecutors to stop buying cattle produced on protected lands and to stop doing business with operators that didn’t comply with labor regulations.

“The expansion of cattle ranching is the biggest driver of deforestation in the Amazon, said Annette Cotter, Greenpeace International Forest Campaigner. “As the biggest meat company in the world, JBS has a responsibility and the ability to lead the industry. Despite countless meetings with Greenpeace, JBS’s actions have not matched its promises and it is still far from implementing the Cattle Agreement on the ground.”

JBS said the company has more than 500 employees directly involved in sustainability initiatives in Brazil.

"Actions involve investments in the environment, incentives and development programs for a sustainable beef supply chain, a satellite monitoring system of rural properties within the Amazon biome, pioneering projects registered at the United Nations (UN) to generate carbon credits, ongoing projects to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG), programs to reduce water usage at production units, selective collection and recycling of residues, production of bio-diesel, the use of renewable energy sources, maintenance of an educational institute to forward social development in the community (Instituto Germinare), among others," the company said.