January 31, 2019 / 10:49 AM / 7 months ago

Poland to employ more inspectors to prevent suspect meat exports

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish authorities will install cameras in slaughterhouses and employ more health inspectors to prevent exports of contaminated beef to other EU countries, chief veterinarian Pawel Niemczuk said on Thursday, after a TV report showed sick cows being taken for slaughter.

A man looks at meat products at a market in Gdynia, Poland. January 31 2019. REUTERS/Matej Leskovsek

“Video surveillance will be available 24 hours a day, but there should be someone with medical and veterinary knowledge that would (be able to) come and assess if the animals are unloaded in line with regulations,” Niemczuk said.

Poland, which exports most of the meat it produces, will spend 120 million zlotys ($32.3 million) in the next three years to implement these changes, Polish National Veterinary Chamber spokesmen told reporters.

Niemczuk said police have launched a criminal investigation into two companies after an undercover reporter filmed sick cows being transported to the slaughterhouse where they were mistreated and then killed.

The police were not immediately available for comment.

“Our neighbors were asking about details of actions we have taken. I have convinced most of the countries that this situation in Poland was an individual case... The (contaminated meat) is being voluntarily withdrawn,” Niemczuk said.

Food processing plants received around 9,500 kg of suspect meat from the two companies, Pawel Niemczuk said at a news conference. Of that, 2,700 kilograms went to fellow EU countries including Sweden, France and Portugal, he said.

Suspect meat exports also reached Romania, Hungary, Estonia, Finland, Spain, Lithuania and Slovakia, he said.

Romania’s veterinary and food safety authority said that no contaminated meat has been sold to consumers on the Romanian market.

Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85 percent of it exported.

($1 = 3.7194 zlotys)

Reporting by Alicja Ptak; Additional reporting Radu-Sorin Marinas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Hugh Lawson

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