||1. What is going on with VEVIBA?
Late February and early March, the public prosecutor’s office conducted searches at the premises of the meat processing plant VEVIBA in Bastogne. The searches were primarily targeted at the company’s cold store. The Belgian Food Agency (FASFC), which fully backed the public prosecutor’s request to conduct searches, took the initiative to also carry out an unannounced check in the meat cutting plant. Two serious infringements were discovered.
For this reason, the approval of the plant was withdrawn.
- In the cold store, it was found among other things that “old” deep-frozen meat was changed into “young” meat by falsifying the date of freezing.
- During the check in the cutting plant, it was found that the meat not intended for human consumption was still being sold, either as oxtail or as minced beef. Regarding the minced beef, the meat had been in contact with the knife used to cut the throats of cows and could potentially contain microbes. This meat can only be used for animal feed.
At the current stage of the judicial inquiry, two specific products which were being sold and could thus pose a potential public health risk have been identified.
2. Which products are concerned?
As mentioned earlier, the products concerned are minced beef and oxtail.
3. Are other products concerned?
Except for the above-mentioned products from VEVIBA, the fresh meat sold in Belgium is not affected by the problem.
4. Which are the potential health risks?
The risk concerned is of a microbiological nature. The processing into minced meat of meat that might be excessively contaminated with bacteria enhances the risk of an intestinal infection. This risk only holds true for meat that is consumed in its raw state (American fillet spread). If the minced beef was kept refrigerated and is properly cooked in a hot pan, there should be no health risk.
Oxtail is always cooked before consumption anyway, so there is no direct microbiological risk.
5. Where have these products been sold?
The tracing has brought to light that this minced beef was being sold in Belgium as raw American fillet by butcher shop Amar, which is one of the points of sale located at the indoor market place “FoodMet” in Anderlecht, and VEVIBA’s own meat shop in Bastogne.
The products were taken off the shelves and a consumer recall was issued. The tracing of minced beef from VEVIBA has been finalised. The minced beef that is currently available in the shops is safe for human consumption.
The oxtail was being sold at Delhaize, Match, Colruyt Group, and the aforementioned butcher shop Amar in Anderlecht. The products were taken off the shelves and a consumer recall was issued. The tracing of the oxtail from VEVIBA has been finalised. The oxtail that is currently available in shops is safe for human consumption.
6. Are the supermarkets concerned by these products?
The supermarkets did not have minced beef from VEVIBA in their product range. However, they have been supplied with oxtails from VEVIBA, the tracing of which has also been finalised in the meantime (see question 5).
7. Why did Delhaize and Colruyt take the VEVIBA meat off the shelves?
As a precaution.
8. Is it safe to consume the other types of meat?
Yes. With the exception of the minced beef from VEVIBA and the oxtail (see question 5), the fresh meat sold in Belgium is not affected by this issue. It is thus perfectly safe to eat beefsteak, roast beef, minced pork, minced veal or any other type of meat sold in Belgium.
9. What about the deep-frozen meat with false deep-freezing dates?
Meat that remains deep-frozen too long loses its “organoleptic” qualities: taste, smell, texture… but it does not necessarily pose a risk to public health.