The dangerous products have been already found in several supermarkets located in Šiauliai, northern Lithuania, Marijampolė, southern Lithuania, and Kaunas in the south-central region.
The authorities said: “The big challenge is to figure out at what stage the needles got into the food products.”
Preliminary investigations have shown that, in all cases, the products were supplied by different companies and, in addition to meat, the needles were also discovered in some fruits.
There is no obvious connection between these cases, the State Food and Veterinary Service has stressed. All the products were delivered to supermarkets by different distributors, imported by different importers, and were purchased by customers in different supermarket chains.
Supply chain under scrutiny
It is believed the products could have been damaged either at the warehouse stage, or in the retail areas, said the State Food and Veterinary Service. Security staff at the supermarkets have been studying CCTV data from the sales areas, but so far have found nothing suspicious.
Despite this, supermarkets in Lithuania were instructed to introduce enhanced monitoring of food products during all stages of the supply chain, from when they are delivered to the warehouse to when they are placed on the shelves, the national regulator added. Security in retail areas has also been enhanced across the country.
“We have also asked buyers to be more attentive, not to remain indifferent if they notice someone’s strange behaviour, and immediately report this to the supermarket’s staff,” said Darius Remeika, director of the State Food and Veterinary Service.
Customers were also advised to cut products into small pieces before consuming them.
Authorities in neighbouring country Latvia have also warned consumers about the safety of the food products.
Latvian Food and Veterinary Service press officer Ilse Meister revealed that there were no complaints from Latvian citizens about any needles found in foodstuffs so far, so there were no formal grounds to enhance security measures in the market.
However, Meister called on consumers “to always be vigilant” and immediately report it to the authorities if needles or other foreign objects were discovered in meat products.