After a film broadcast on Polish TVN 24 revealed that a slaughterhouse was illegally trafficking sick cattle, Polish police have launched an investigation into the matter. The film showed secret footage of cows too sick to stand being dragged into the plant, as well as slaughterhouse workers cutting carcasses at night “to avoid official supervision.”

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With no way of knowing where the meat went, the scandalous footage could end up being as serious as the 2013 EU horsemeat scandal that exposed Europe’s complex meat market and triggered product recalls.

As first reported by the BBC, a statement issued just days after the movie premiered on TV, Poland’s chief veterinary officer said his inspectors and Polish police received a tip about the possible illegal slaughter at an abattoir in northeastern Poland near Ostrow Mazowiecka. On the night of January 14 eight sick cows were found at the facility and it was decided their suffering must come to an end and were ultimately killed.

“During the check, the owners of the animals were identified, along with an animal dealer who transported cattle unfit for transport, and abattoir staff responsible for animal welfare there,” the statement said.

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The inspectors are continuing their investigation by attempting to identify buyers and sellers of meat from sick animals and are also checking other slaughterhouses in the region.

According to Eurostat, an EU statistics agency, Poland is the EU’s seventh-largest producer of cow meat behind Ireland, Spain, Italy, the UK, Germany and France. In 2017, the country produced over 558,000 tons of beef and beef products, and each year they slaughter approximately two million head of cattle.

However, just two percent of Poland’s meat consumption is beef, which means nearly all of Polish cow meat is exported. Data from UK Revenue and Customs (HMRC) shows that in 2018, the UK imported $85 million worth of Polish beef.

Many are hoping that this latest revelation will lead to regulatory action that should have happened after the first scandal. The designated veterinarian for the slaughterhouse and his county supervisor have already been fired.

“I think the police, which is at this moment already engaged in this issue, will be trying step by step to explain what has been the role of the supervisory authorities in this illegal, reprehensible, and downright criminal procedure,” says journalist Tomasz Patora of TVN 24’s Superwizjer.


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