France traces all suspect Polish beef, says some already sold

Paris – France’s agriculture ministry says it has traced the remainder of the suspect Polish beef imported into the country, adding that some of it had been sold to consumers.

“The remaining 145 kilos have been identified in lots prepared by wholesalers, butchers or restaurants,” said a statement on Saturday.

In total France imported 795 kg (1,750 pounds) of the meat from a Polish slaughterhouse where allegedly sick cows were butchered. Five hundred kilos were found and destroyed earlier and 150 kilos sold to consumers with the remaining 145 kilos unaccounted for until Saturday.

A ministry official told AFP that some of the remaining 145 kilos had already been sold.

“What is complicated is that the 145 kilos were mixed with meat of other origin” by a wholesaler.

“At this stage a few dozen restaurants and butchers’ shops are concerned mainly in the Paris region,” a statement said.

French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume has said nine French companies had been “duped” into importing beef from the abattoir in Kalinowo, a village some 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Warsaw.

Poland’s chief veterinarian Pawel Niemczuk has confirmed that 2.7 tonnes of the suspect beef was exported to 13 EU countries. But Polish authorities have said the meat does not pose a health risk.

The slaughterhouse has been closed and a probe launched.

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

Sweden’s National Food Agency said that just under 100 kilogrammes of the total 239 kilogrammes of suspect Polish beef delivered to the country had already been consumed, while the rest has been seized.

The beef was also exported to the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Spain, according to the European Commission.

Niemczuk said another seven tonnes were sold to about 20 outlets in Poland but insisted that tests found it did not pose a health risk.

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