Swedish government withdraws hamburgers

Wed, Feb 20, 2013, 00:00

Swedish health authorities have withdrawn from sale about six tonnes of hamburger and kebab meat imported from the Netherlands, after two children became ill and tests revealed the presence of a potentially lethal bacteria.

The Food and Drug Administration in Stockholm said the meat was on sale in supermarkets when the contamination was discovered, so only about half of it could be withdrawn, which means up to 60,000 hamburgers may be in consumers’ fridges.

The Swedish authorities traced the meat to a local wholesaler who said it had been imported from a supplier in Enschede in the Netherlands, which processes meat from six slaughterhouses, in Poland, Hungary, Latvia and the UK.

They said tests showed the meat contained EHEC or enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli, a variant of E.coli, which can cause severe food-borne disease and is usually most dangerous to children and the elderly.

As a result of the Swedish alert, Dutch health inspectors yesterday visited Beimer Meat BV, which has operated in Enschede since 1957, employs 140 staff and has a throughput of 900 tonnes of beef a week.

They said they would be carrying out a thorough hygiene audit at the plant and attempting to establish which other wholesalers had been supplied from the same consignment of meat. In a statement last night, Beimer said it was “shocked” by the allegations of contamination, and insisted its meat was processed to the highest hygiene standards and legal requirements.