“Eating this meat, consumers would risk being poisoned,” was the verdict from Polish scientists after testing one batch of the meat which made it to Poland a few years ago.
Svenska Dagbladet revealed in 2009 that canned meat from the early 90s was being relabelled and sold to restaurants in Poland.
The meat, which had been part of Sweden’s emergency stock, had been produced by a Swedish meat company called Scan Syd from Kristianstad in southern Sweden in 1993.
In 2000, the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) tried to sell off the stock but it proved difficult and the cans ended up in a warehouse for another nine years before a buyer could be found.
However, in 2009 a wholesaler purchased almost 1,000 tonnes of canned corned beef and 500 tonnes of minced meat mix from the agency.
After SvD’s report about the meat in Poland, a consumer reported a can of meat bought in Sweden, and officers from the environmental administration (Miljöförvaltningen) carried out a surprise inspection of the Stockholm supplier, M&T Company.
“We found large numbers of cans that were being relabelled on the premises,” said one of the agency officers, Camilla Blom, to SvD.
The sell-by-date had been changed to 2013 on all the cans.
According to what meat company Scan Syd told the paper, the product should have been consumed within ten years of being canned.
When the meat was tested in Poland in 2009, scientists said it was rotting and that eating it would mean a risk of falling ill in food-poisoning.
“Also, the nutritional value is so low that anyone eating large amounts of it would risk malnutrition,” wrote Maria Walczyka of the Warsaw Agricultural University, responsible for the testing, according to SvD.
Following the visit by the agency officers, M&T Company promised to recall the unsold cans of meat from 23 shops that they had supplied of which twenty were in Stockholm and three in Gothenburg.
“The company has had microbiological tests done on the cans which show that the meat is still fit for human consumption. Despite this they have chosen to immediately follow the agency’s orders by stopping the sales and recalling all that has already gone out,” said M&T Company’s lawyer Ilhan Aydin to SvD.
The agency initially reported the company, but in February 2012 the preliminary investigation was dropped as the prosecutor deemed it impossible to prove that the company had meant to deceive anyone.
However, the environmental administration intends to appeal.
“If we can’t get someone who sells 19-year-old food charged before a court of law, then we can’t get legal action against anyone,” said Helena Storbjörk Windahl of the agency to SvD.