Food industry, MPs shocked by contaminated meat claims

Claims by a television programme that 60% of carcasses in Dutch abattoirs are contaminated by faeces were described as ‘shocking’ and ‘unacceptable’ by MPs on Wednesday.

The Zembla current affairs programme, to be broadcast on Thursday evening, will say a large percentage of meat offered for sale contains bacteria such as E.coli, which is spread by poor practices in slaughterhouses.

In particular, the infection is spread when the intestines of slaughtered animals are punctured, spreading their contents, Nos television quotes the show as saying. According to one inspector, up to 60% of carcasses have been contaminated.

Another inspector quoted by the show said: ‘This is due to the high speed of the conveyer belt and people who do not disinfect their hands or clean their knives.’

A spokesman for the food retail industry body CBL said it wanted to know if Zembla had concrete evidence that food hygiene rules are being broken. If there is a danger to public health, this should be reported to the proper authorities immediately, the CBL is quoted as saying by Nos television.

Junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma said in letter to parliament ‘drastic changes are unavoidable’.

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