Czech-mate? Horsemeat scandal gallops back to Poland

A Czech meat distributor accused FVZ Deli Meat from Śląsk in south Poland on Monday of being the source of beef products found to contain an unknown per cent of horse meat by Czech veterinarian authorities.

“They put horse meat in our beef products,” the irate general manager at the Bidvest Czech Republic meat distributors, Mr. Bohumil Volf, told Polish Radio’s foreign language service

However, when Poland Today contacted Mr. Ireneusz Pawełek from the Sales Department of FVZ Deli Meat on Tuesday morning, we were informed his firm “never knowingly handled horse meat” and claimed “one of our suppliers are the source of the problem.”

Mr. Pawelak confirmed that his firm were checked by the Polish veterianrian authorities Monday and that their suppliers include both Food Service and Mipol Poland, both accused last month by Irish meat suppliers as the source of contaminated imported frozen beef products. He also added “there are many others we are checking too.”

On Wednesday Polish veterinarian authorities seized three tonnes of meat from a processing plant in the Polish province of Silesia.

Beata Kowalewska, from the Regional Veterinary Inspectorate in Silesia, told the Polish Press Agency (PAP) that the results of the tests are expected over the coming days.

She added that apart from checking the meat, documents related to the purchase of food products would also be cross-checked.

Neither the director of FVZ Deli Meat Heinrich Thombansen nor senior board member Gregor Kubiak were available to comment on the allegations Tuesday.

The FVZ meat firm were set up in 2001 and produce hamburgers, minced meat products, gyros, cutlets, shasliks and roulades for domestic consumption as well as exporting to a wide-range of EU countries.

They state on their website that their plant
“produces frozen meat products, processing around 40 tonnes of meat per week to produce classic products and culinary specialities.”
The firm is part of the larger VION Food Group which has its headquarters Eindhoven, the Netherlands. It had a turnover of 9.5 bn in 2011, employing 26,425 employees by the end of the same year.

It has large operations in the UK, Sweden, the Ukraine, Portugal, Spain, France Bulgaria, Germany Romania, as well as two trading companies in Poland – VION Trading Poland and VION Poland.

The firm claim they implement a rigid internal auditing and quality control regime through the HACCP system, EU export rights (PL 24084001 WE), ISO certificate 22000 and the IFS-5 norm.

Over the past decade they have been awarded numerous gold, silver and bronze medals for their product quality in annual contests run by the German Agricultural Society.

The new accusations come fresh on the heals of Germany’s Der Spiegel weekly magazine report on Sunday, citing European officials, said that horsemeat-tainted beef products were discovered in goulash sold by low-cost retailer Aldi.

Those products, produced by German firm Dreistern Konserven, claims it sourced its meat through a dealer from the embattled Polish firm Mipol, in the Beskida mountains of southern Poland.
Mipol Poland was also one of the meat suppliers visited by Irish broadcaster RTE’s Prime Time Investigates two weeks ago.

They had originally been named by McAdam foods from Newry in Northern Ireland as the source of their contaminated beef batch which made it into the Irish frozen burger chain via the ABP Food Group-owned Silvercrest Ltd. company which in turn supplied Tesco, Lidl, Iceland and other well-known supermarket chains.

On Tuesday, Mipol Poland once again vociferously denied any wrongdoing, saying they were also a victim in this whole affair.

Lawyer for the firm Mr. Tomasz Darowski told this journalist that it is very unfair how Der Spiegel never even gave the firm a chance to comment on the allegations.

The director of the Mipol Poland was not available to comment, however, Mr. Darowski said he had spoken to Mr. Jozef Plata and Mr. Piotr Mikulec on Tuesday morning and they told him “there is no way the firm could be to blame as it only slaughters animals” and that “without doubt the blame rests with one of the many traders they deal with.”

Mr. Darowski also commented that
“we are doing everything they could to get to the bottom of it by cross-checking who among their suppliers could have tainted their product and possibly sent it to the Czech Republic, Ireland and Germany.”
He reiterated that no evidence has yet been offered by the Irish as to why the pointed the finger at them and Polish veterinarian controls have completely exonerated them of any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, Poland’s IKEA customers can still enjoy their meatballs though.

Meanwhile, an Ikea spokeperson in Poland has said they are withdrawing its meatballs throughout the country as they suspect they may contain horsemeat.
First published on Poland Today                         Photo: Wikicommons


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