Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) inspectors found 250 tonnes of old meat — some from as early as 2010 — at Skare Meat Packers, which was a supplier to three of Denmark’s biggest grocery chains.
The fact the company couldn’t say where the meat is from set off alarm bells for authorities.
Skare Meat Packers is a supplier of meat to the Salling Group, which includes Bilka, Føtex, and Netto.
The Salling Group announced on Wednesday that it had cut all ties with Skare.
“Our customers must feel confident that suppliers have full transparency at all times and that they comply with relevant laws,” Salling Group’s director of communications Henrik Vinther Olesen told media Finans.
Danish food authorities say meat can be sold as long as the company assesses it for safety (for instance, via smell or taste) regardless of its age — even if it’s 50 years old, a statement from the agency said.
But Skare was reported to police by the Veterinary and Food Administration because the company was unable to document where much of the decade-old meat originated, and because there was evidence that labelling had been changed to display the wrong country of origin.
The company was also reported to police for allegedly attempting to prevent inspectors from undertaking checks.
Skare Meat Packers director Kurt Skare told newspaper Jyllands-Posten that the company had not acted in breach of the law.
He also said that the ‘old’ meat is sold in processed products like sausage, and that it’s normal for companies to have meat in storage that dates from before 2017.
While it’s technically not illegal to sell meat this old, neither is it normal, according to the business organization the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.
“Quality and food safety decrease the longer meat is stored,” president Jens Munk Ebbesen told news outlet Agriwatch.
“That’s why it’s not normal to store meat for more than two years if you care about the health, quality and safety of your food,” he said.