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Sunday 24 September 2017

Polish firm exporting here probed over waste meat claims

Aideen Sheehan Consumer Correspondent

A POLISH meat company that exports products to Ireland is being investigated over claims it uses meat that shouldn't be allowed into the food chain.

Poland's veterinary inspectorate confirmed yesterday that it is investigating the processor Viola over suspicions it was using returned products close to their sell-by date.

This followed an undercover probe by a journalist who claimed to have seen evidence of returned meat that was close to its expiry date being selected for use.

This meat was then mixed with fresh products and made into sausages and luncheon meat according to workers at the plant.

The TV investigation team from TVN Uwaga! also said sales records showed the company was exporting meat products to Ireland in 2013, although it did not have figures for the exports.

They alleged that the company was aware of official audits a week in advance, giving them time to clean up and prepare paperwork.

It also claimed that a local veterinary official was "treated like a king" and given packages of the best meat during audits.

Viola categorically denied that it was adding returned meat to its cold meat products and said it stuck to correct procedures at all times, putting health and safety first.

However, the Polish veterinary authorities said yesterday they had carried out a specialised audit on foot of the allegations.

That audit had "partially confirmed the suspicions" that the company was freezing products that may have originated from returned meat.

"Some of the products inspected had expired but despite this they were still located in a part of the factory not designated for waste products," it said in a statement.

The veterinary inspectorate had informed the prosecutor's office in Bydgoscz about suspicions that a crime had been committed in the management of returned meat.

Negligent

It had also ordered the provincial veterinary inspectorate to carry out comprehensive controls of the plant, and demanded an internal investigation into possible negligent supervision at the plant.

Factories are not supposed to reprocess meat that has been returned because they cannot guarantee its safety or whether it was stored correctly and not defrosted while out of its control.

The Chief Veterinary Inspectorate said it had also been informed that production at the plant had stopped while the matter was being investigated.

The company said in a statement that it had not and did not add meat to its products which had been returned, and such behaviour had no place in the company.

Viola said that in its view the official audit carried out this week unambiguously indicated that it stuck to correct procedures.

It said it would present documents and facts in the next week which would confirm the allegations were groundless and it assured the public it always had consumers' welfare in mind.

Viola's website shows that its exports markets include Ireland, Great Britain and Germany.

Irish Independent

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