Polish beef contaminated with salmonella

Beef in a Czech warehouse has been found to pose a health risk

Inspections of Polish beef have turned up a large quantity contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Veterinary inspections of beef increased after allegations arose that a slaughterhouse in Poland was butchering sick cattle at night. The scandal broke at the end of January due to a news report on Polish television station TVN24.

Czech health authorities increased inspections after news that some of the meat may have reached the country.

Separate inspections of restaurants have turned up some beef being sold as coming from Argentina, while its labels showed a different origin.

Salmonella was found in 700 kilograms of Polish meat, according to Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman (ČSSD). Salmonella poisoning can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, and muscle aches. Severe cases can require hospitalization.

The Czech Republic is now testing all Polish beef before it is allowed on the Czech market, Toman added.

“For beef that was delivered to a warehouse in Dolní Jirčany in the Central Bohemian region on February 13, tests have shown the presence of Salmonella enteritidis,” Toman said.

“The measures introduced in connection with the case of the problematic Polish slaughterhouse proved to be justified,” he added, thanking the State Veterinary Administration (SVS) and the State Agricultural and Food Inspection (SZPI) for their work to protect Czech consumers.

The SVS is investigating whether any of the meat has reached consumers. The contaminated meat was imported by a subsidiary of the Agrofert Group. That company is now considering stopping all imports from Poland.

News of the findings have been shared with authorities in Poland and well as the European Commission.

Toman did not clarify his previous comments about a restaurant with an Asian name that was selling Polish beef labeled as coming from Argentina.

The SZPI, though, announced that two restaurants were selling meat from Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil as if it had come from Argentina, in addition to some previous cases involving misrepresentation of beef origins. The restaurants face fines for the misrepresentation, but consumers were not at any health risk.

One of the accused restaurants has threatened legal action, as the owners claim to have been unfairly linked to the Polish meat scandal.

TNV24’s undercover report in January showed allegedly sick animals being slaughtered at an abattoir some 112 km east of Warsaw. Visibly damaged parts of meat were removed and discarded, and the rest was cut up and sold.

Some 2.7 tons of meat is known to have been shipped to EU countries. Twice that amount was sold outside of the EU.

Poland makes some 560,000 tons of beef annually, and 85 percent is exported.
Polish law requires a veterinarian to be present at slaughterhouses, but the one at the center of the scandal did not have one on duty.

Poland has long faced issues over the quality of its food exports to the Czech Republic.
In 2012 problems were found with Polish powdered eggs, pickles, and sauerkraut. In 2013 Czech inspectors claimed to have found traces of painkillers used on racehorses in horse meat. In 2013 Polish meat producers were accused of using industrial salt in processing meat. This resulted in hundreds of tons of meat being removed from markets.

The next year contaminated powdered milk was found to have been used in making wafers and other sweets.

Poland's Ministry of Agriculture claimed at the time that their food was comparable to that of other countries, and Poland was being made a scapegoat.

Czech authorities said that Polish food had a significantly higher amount of defects than comparable Czech foods that had been inspected.

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