EU inspectors arrive in Poland to probe shocking beef scandal
EU experts arrived in Poland on Monday to probe a suspect beef scare that saw a Polish slaughterhouse allegedly evade controls to butcher lame cows and export the meat to other European Union members.
“The audit is being carried out here at the Chief Veterinary Inspectorate. In the coming days it will be continued on the ground” and will conclude on Friday, Poland’s chief veterinarian Pawel Niemczuk told reporters.
European Commission spokeswoman Anca Paduraru confirmed that the team had arrived in Poland, telling reporters that “the report will be ready in about a month.”
The beef scandal erupted late last month after the TVN24 commercial news channel aired footage of apparently sick or lame cows being butchered at a small slaughterhouse in northeast Poland.
The TV report said dealers bought lame or sick cattle at much lower prices than healthy animals.
A journalist working undercover at the abattoir used a hidden camera to film the secret late-night slaughter when veterinary authorities were unlikely to visit.
Poland immediately shut down the abattoir in Kalinowo, a village some 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Warsaw.
Niemczuk said that an appraisal of the meat revealed that it does not pose a health risk.
He added that Poland had learnt the meat had been exported to two other countries – Greece and Slovenia – in addition to those already known.
A total of 2.7 tonnes of the suspect beef was exported to them plus the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania.
Poland is a leading producer and exporter of meat in Europe.
The country produces around 600,000 tonnes of beef per year and exports the majority of it, mainly to the European Union, according to meat producer associations.
The scare recalls a 2013 scandal in which horsemeat was passed off as beef and used in ready-to-eat meals sold across Europe.