Polish sick cow slaughter triggers Scandinavian probes

By Jaroslaw Adamowski

- Last updated on GMT

Sweden & Finland authorities investigate Polish sick cow scandal
Sweden & Finland authorities investigate Polish sick cow scandal
Polish prosecutors have launched an investigation into illegal traffic and slaughtering of sick cattle after local journalists covertly filmed workers at a slaughterhouse in Ostrów Mazowiecka, in the country’s central region.

Meanwhile, the scandal has alerted Sweden’s National Food Agency (NFA) and the Finnish Food Authority (FFA). 

Following media reports, the Circuit Prosecutor’s Office in Ostrołęka has launched a probe into the activities of the slaughterhouse and potential misconduct by a veterinarian.

The NFA said in a statement that “small quantities”​ of meat from the Polish slaughterhouse were sold to four Swedish companies located in different parts of the country.

The Finnish institution has announced it is “currently investigating how much meat has been imported from Poland to Finland, and whether the meat has quality issues”​. The FFA said it had requested additional information from the Polish authorities, and contacted the European Commission to determine whether low-quality beef has been delivered to the Finnish market.  

Leena Räsänen, director of the Food Safety Department at the Finnish institution, was quoted in the statement that companies from the Finnish food industry knew the origins of the imported meat, and thus would be able to remove processed products and raw materials that were suspected of non-compliance with the country’s food safety standards. 

Call for tighter regulations

Meanwhile, the Polish National Veterinary Chamber (PNVC) has issued a statement on the scandal, which was first covered by local TV broadcaster TVN. In the statement, the institution said it had notified relevant authorities in Poland on the “unacceptable activities of the employees of the facility which are also in violation of the law”​, and it “expects that those guilty will be severely punished, so that similar situations”​ do not happen again in the future.

“It is also indispensable to rapidly change the regulations to tighten the veterinary surveillance” ​over such facilities, ​the PNVC said. “What needs to be done? In our opinion, as we have continued to declare in our statements submitted to decision-makers … the Veterinary Inspection should ​[be overhauled to enable it to] control, in an independent manner, food production at all of its stages, and its continuous and direct surveillance over trade in livestock and production of animal-based food products should be restored”.

The NFA said it is an autonomous government agency reporting to the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation.

The FFA launched its operations on 1 January 2019 when the Finnish Food Safety Authority, the Agency for Rural Affairs, and part of the IT services of the National Land Survey of Finland were merged into a single entity. The institution said it operates under the supervision of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and its head office is located in Seinäjoki.

The PNVC is the self-government body of veterinarians in Poland. The organisation said it consists of 16 regional veterinary chambers, and its responsibilities include the supervision of the proper pursuit of the veterinary profession.

Related topics: Poland, Industry & Markets, Beef

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