‘Unfit’ meat from Polish abattoir recalled from 12 countries

An abattoir in Poland is under investigations by national authorities and a recall has been announced of meat sourced from the premises across 12 EU member states, following the illegal slaughter and processing of animals unfit for human consumption.

The European Commission has said it is in close contact with the Polish authorities who are currently investigating the case.

At the request of the commission, on Tuesday (January 29) Poland alerted member states so that the meat could be traced and withdrawals are ongoing.

Meat from the processor in question was exported to 12 EU member states: Estonia; Finland; France; Hungary; Lithuania; Latvia; Portugal; Romania; Spain; Sweden; Germany; and Slovakia. The withdrawal and destruction of the meat is ongoing, the commission confirmed.

Polish authorities informed the commission that the plant has been closed.

A team of European Commission auditors are being deployed to Poland on Monday to assess the situation of official controls carried on the ground.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis reacted: “My services are in permanent contact with Polish authorities.

“I am following this case closely and I asked the inspectors in my team to be in Poland as of Monday and assess the situation on the ground.

The priority today is to trace and withdraw from the market all the products originated from this slaughterhouse.

“At the same time I urge the Polish authorities to finalise as a matter of urgency their investigations, taking all the necessary measures to ensure the respect of the EU legislation.”

This, he said, should include “effective, rapid and dissuasive penalties against the perpetrators of such a criminal behaviour that could pose risk to public health and portrays an unacceptable treatment of animals”.

Polish response

Polish authorities have moved to assure consumers that the meat, coming from a slaughterhouse in Ostrow Mazowiecka, is safe for consumption with no biological hazards found following testing – though it is still being withdrawn.

According to Polish chief veterinary officer Pawel Niemczuk, the slaughtering was illegal, conducted at night, with no veterinary supervision, adding that further actions of preventive veterinary services have been implemented, which consist in increased, unannounced inspections of all slaughterhouses in Poland.

The chief veterinary officer added that also, due to the lack of observance of animal welfare, the activity was illegal.

Both the slaughterhouse and owners of farms who sell sick animals will be prosecuted, with the prosecutor’s office set to raise charges in this matter, the Polish government has confirmed.

Chief sanitary inspector Jaroslaw Pinkashe added: “The State Sanitary Inspection is conducting ongoing monitoring; we have increased the supervision over what is happening in the detail.

“We do not have any threat at the moment. We are a safe country,” he added.

The slaughterhouse, located in the Polish region of Ostrow Mazowiecka, has been closed, its entitlements have been withdrawn, and the protected meat will be disposed of, authorities have said.

Regulations

According to the European Commission, to comply with regulations, veterinary officials are required to inspect both live animals prior to slaughter and carcasses afterwards.

Animals cannot be declared fit for human consumption if they are affected by animal diseases for which animal health rules apply, if they are affected by a generalised disease or if they constitute a public or animal health risk, according to the commission.

The practice of dragging animals that are unable to walk as described in the article is forbidden by the EU legislation on the protection of animals at slaughterhouses.

All meat destined for human consumption for which there is no full assurance of compliance with EU rules must be taken immediately off the market; especially when there is no certainty that it does not pose an animal health or public health risk, the commission has said.