Beef withdrawal over anthrax fears

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

NVWA said the risk for consumers is small
NVWA said the risk for consumers is small

Related tags: European union

A batch of beef possibly contaminated with anthrax has been withdrawn from the market, according to the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

Almost 7,000kg was delivered to 19 companies in the Netherlands and 26 companies in Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, France, Portugal and Italy.

The risk for consumers is considered very small but the agency said it is taking the action as the meat does not meet food safety standards.

The shipment consisted of Polish and Slovak carcass parts and the agency is currently trying to trace all the meat.

NVWA timeline

NVWA said it was informed by the Polish authorities on October 8 who had been told by the Slovak agency on October 3.

The Slovak cattle were slaughtered in Poland in September, carcass parts arrived at Dutch companies four days later (September 23) and on September 27 anthrax was established on the farm in Slovakia.

Inspections before and after slaughter revealed no abnormalities but anthrax was found in two Slovak cattle in Presov on September 27.

The disease is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis and the source has been linked to the former burial of animals after a previous occurrence in 2012 and 2010.

The incubation period in the cow is three to seven days. The incubation period in humans is one to seven days.

OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) reported in an October 1 bulletin that quarantine, disinfection of infected premises/establishment(s) and treatment of affected animals (antibiotics) had been applied and vaccination was going to take place.

In total there are 59 cattle believed to be susceptible with three cases and three deaths.

Swedish response

The Swedish National Food Agency said the meat from Slovakia has been stopped.  
Five hundred kilograms of beef is to be destroyed as a precautionary measure due to anthrax being discovered on the farm the meat comes from.

Meat is from animals bred in Slovakia and slaughtered in Poland.
The meat has not been sold to consumers and will be destroyed even though it is not considered to be contaminated.

People in Sweden who have handled the meat will get antibiotics, said the agency.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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