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Watchdog raises meaty concerns

Published on 26/08/2004

26 August 2004

BRUSSELS – Half of all meat sold in Belgium is not stored according to adequate safety and hygiene standards, consumer watchdog Test-Achats warned on Thursday.

The consumer rights body has carried out tests of steaks and minced beef in 40 shops, 16 butchers and 22 supermarkets.

Although it found that bacterial levels in meat were down, storing temperatures and the presence of sulphite remain a cause for concern.

Meat should be preserved at a temperature of four degrees Celsius, with two degrees of flexibility for mince and hamburger meat.

One sales outlet out of every three scored badly on this front, with temperatures in some shops reaching 9.8 degrees.

“We made our purchases in March so we hardly dare imagine the temperatures in a summer like the one we had last year,” said Test-Achats.

Four samples of meat were given a negative assessment after they were found to contain germs and salmonella bacteria.

At the other end of the scale, nine samples were given a mark of excellence, ten were judged to be of good quality, and 17 were of reasonable quality.

Traces of sulphite were found in three samples, or seven percent of the meat tested.

The cancerous product is used to keep the red colour of the meat and preserve it for longer.

In one piece of meat, 418 mg/kg of sulphite was found, when the permitted daily dose for an adult of 70kg is 49 mg/kg.

Test-Achats also discovered a number of other breaches of legal obligations when it came to labelling.

Nine sales outlets, five supermarkets and four butchers, received a black mark for the labelling of dates.

In five businesses not even a price was to be found on the product.

In six sales outlets, the meat indicated on the packet was different to the produce inside.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news