Article by Kevin Holland, photo by MOs810 and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
A major new Polish report on the news channel TVN24 has caused alarm bells around Europe. It shows very sick cows being smuggled into a Polish abattoir and sold on without apparent inspection.
The story was led by journalist Patryk Szczepaniak who worked undercover at the abattoir to produce the report.
“I was ordered by my supervisors to mark the meat as healthy, and basically to make it prettier. It was horrible, believe me. The smell of rotting meat just makes you puke. I had to make it prettier by scrubbing it with my knife”.
Poland is a major exporter of beef, one of the largest in the EU, exporting an estimated $1.5bn worth a year.
“Veterinarians are supposed to be there before, during, and after the slaughter, but in almost three weeks working in the slaughterhouse, I only saw the vet in the morning while he took care of the paperwork and briefly examined the cow’s heads”.
Already there has been a strong reaction from other member states. Finland has demanded an explanation from Warsaw, to ensure no contaminated beef has entered its markets.
Poland’s Chief Veterinary Officer has now ordered an investigation and inspections, but there will be concerns in Brussels that this is too little too late. The single market can only function if states are committed to upholding common standards. Trust is critical.
Poland has enough problems to deal with as it is, so this will not be at the top of its priorities. But animal welfare and food standards are critically important. Brussels must ensure both are respected in every member state.