Food minister “furious” after latest meat scandal

The Danish meat industry’s reputation is in tatters and it clearly doesn’t respect its customers, according to food scientist

The national food authorities, Fødevarestyrelsen, have uncovered another meaty scandal after finding pork meat in food products that were labelled as beef.

As part of a screening initiative that the food and agriculture minister, Mette Gjerskov (Socialdemokraterne), launched in the wake of the horsemeat scandal earlier this year, Fødevarestyrelsen has taken 70 samples from random food companies and 29 samples from a specific slaughterhouse in Jutland.

Out of the 70 random beef-product samples, three contained traces of horsemeat while 11 contained swine meat. In seven of the samples, the amount of pork was over one percent, which could suggest that it was purposely mixed in.

While the results indicated that the Danish meat industry doesn’t have the massive horsemeat issues that other EU countries have experienced, Gjerskov was still alarmed over the findings.

“The consumers must be able to trust what is written on the packages, whether it is horse, pork or something else,” Gjerskov said in a Fødevarestyrelsen press release. “That’s why I am furious that Fødevarestyrelsen was able to find pig meat in several beef products.”

Gjerskov was backed up by food scientist Orla Zinck, the head of catering advocates Dansk Catering Center, who argued that the national meat industry has a very poor image that it doesn’t seem very eager to improve.

“The meat industry is not doing enough to better their image and this is another nail in their coffin,” Zinck told Politiken newspaper. “The investigation conveys that the industry is loaded with poor morals and a disdain for the consumers they depend on. And that is thought-provoking.”

While three of the samples contained horsemeat, the amount was in such small concentration that the authorities considered it to be the result of sloppy work rather than premeditated fraud.

But Zinck maintained that the investigation proves that there is something fundamentally wrong with the Danish food control system. He added that customers who don’t eat certain meats because of their religious beliefs are not being respected.

“We can't say if the meat fraud has been done on purpose, but at any rate it implies sloppy work, an indifferent attitude towards customers, no control of production and no respect for customers who don’t eat pork,” Zinck told Politiken. “And if it is done on purpose, then the motive is obvious. It’s money, because pork is cheaper than beef.”

In response to the findings, Gjerskov has lambasted the industry and will meet with leaders in order to sort out the issues. At the same time she will launch a significant food control campaign aimed at meat fraud.

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