Meat company Carna Grischa is being investigated after Swiss newspaper Sonnstags Blick reported what it called "the big meat deception". It claimed the business falsified expiration dates, lied about origin, labelled horsemeat as beef, and sold defrosted meat as ‘fresh’.
The company supplies to hotels, restaurants, canteens and nursing homes among others, and is one of Switzerland’s five largest meat traders, according to the paper.
It added that a number of businesses immediately cancelled contracts with Carna Grischa – for example Restaurant Giardino in Dübendorf, which received Hungarian poultry that was supposed to be Swiss; The Hotel Streiff in Arosa, which allegedly received steak with false expiration dates; and the Dow Chemical Company in Horgen, which received "cheap horsemeat instead of expensive beef".
The newspaper said: "These examples are only a small selection... dozens of cases have been documented and there are multiple suspected cases."
Carna Grischa had originally attempted to stop the exposé from being published, and managed to get the courts to issue a temporary injunction, but this was lifted after it was decided that the information was in the public interest.
Sonnstags Blick said the company initially denied all allegations, before admitting that an internal investigation had unearthed irregularities. However, it insisted they were "isolated incidents". A spokesperson added: "At least 98% of the customers have received correctly declared meat."
A statement on the Carna Grischa website reads: "The board of directors has learned with great regret and concern from those in the media irregularities in the handling of customer orders. These incidents are unacceptable and are in complete contradiction to the existing quality and behaviour guidelines of Carna Grisha AG.
"The board of directors has decided, as an immediate measure, to strengthen quality control to rule out any similar incidents with certainty. The board has also decided to appoint independent experts with a comprehensive clarification of the incidents."