The Dutch safety institute is poised to publish a damning report about food safety in the meat industry, the Telegraaf reports on Wednesday.
The report by the Onderzoeksraad voor de Veiligheid says there are serious shortcomings in food industry supervision which pose a risk to food safety, the paper says.
In particular, the report is criticial of the lack of transparency in the meat trade. For example, a supermarket hamburger or meatball could have been handled by three or four different meat processors and the origin of the meat is often untraceable.
The Telegraaf says the industry itself is waiting for the report on tenterhooks following a string of food safety scandals over the past year. These involve beef contaminated with horse and faeces and salmonella in salmon.
Last year some 60,000 people suffered salmonella poisioning in the Netherlands, the paper says. Yet the number of NVWA food safety inspectors has been ‘eaten away’ over the past few years.
Earlier this month, the head of the NVWA told the Financieele Dagblad there has been a disturbing number of incidents involving food in the Netherlands and meat product producers in particular have a lack of ethical awareness.
‘It has become normal to go as far as you can and hope you won’t get caught and that shows a blurring of standards,’ the organisation’s director Harry Paul told the Financieele Dagblad.
‘This has led to a number of serious shortcomings which delivers serious risks for the near future as well.’
Meanwhile, a broadcast by television consumers show Radar showing the abuse of horses in North and South American slaughterhouses has prompted some supermarkets to have a rethink, news agency ANP says.
Coop and Deen said they would stop the import of horse meat products from the continent while Jumbo and Albert Heijn are to investigate the origin of their own products.
Snack maker Ad van Geloven/Mora has also pledged to investigate where the horse meat it uses comes from.
Health minister Edith Schippers has promised a better labelling system for meat products so that consumers can see where the horse meat has come from.
Horse meat is not widely eaten by itself in the Netherlands but is processed into snacks such as frikandel and in ready-to-eat meals.