EU states destroy suspect Polish beef as scare spreads

WARSAW (AFP) – Several EU countries on Friday seized and destroyed suspect beef from a Polish slaughterhouse where allegedly sick cows were butchered, as French authorities said some of the meat had already been sold to customers.

Warsaw has attempted to reassure affected countries and says the meat does not pose a health risk.

Poland’s chief veterinarian Pawel Niemczuk confirmed that 2.7 tonnes of the suspect beef was exported, while the European Commission said the meat was traced to 13 member states where it was being withdrawn and destroyed.

The scare recalls a 2013 scandal in which horsemeat was passed off as beef and used in ready-to-eat meals sold across Europe.

Brussels will send a team of auditors to Poland to assess the situation on the spot, said Anca Paduraru, a spokeswoman for the European Commission.

File photo shows cow carcasses dipslayed at the meat pavilion of the Rungis international food market in Rungis. – AFP

French authorities said 795 kilogrammes of beef from the slaughterhouse – which has now been closed – had been imported.

More than 500 kilogrammes have already been seized and destroyed, said France’s Directorate General of Food.

Around 150 kilogrammes, however, had been “sold to the consumer notably through butcher’s shops” which were now attempting to alert customers, an Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.

Attempts to track down the remaining meat were continuing.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said nine French companies had been “duped” into importing beef from the abattoir in Kalinowo, a village some 100 kilometres northeast of Warsaw.

Portuguese authorities said they had destroyed 99 kilogrammes of suspect Polish beef, while Romania said it had eliminated 1,432 kilogrammes as a “safety measure”.