Old meat ‘safe,’ consumers told

While state veterinarians were yesterday destroying more than 65 tons of frozen Belgian beef dating from 1999, the government claimed that neither domestic nor European health regulations had been violated by the meat imports and stressed that the beef was safe. «What is significant is whether, after all mandatory import inspections have been conducted, each consignment is found to be safe for public health,» an Agricultural Development and Food Ministry statement said. The import checks focus on the «hygienics» rather than the «quality» of the meat, the statement said. Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexandros Kontos, responding to criticism by PASOK regarding the legislation that allowed the meat to enter the Greek market, asked why the opposition party «failed to change these laws during its 20 years in government.» Later yesterday Athens and Piraeus Prefect Fofi Gennimata asked Agriculture Minister Evangelos Bassiakos to draft fresh legislation, putting a two-year expiry limit on frozen meat. According to the prefect of western Attica, Aristeidis Arkoudaris, a total of 108 tons of the Belgian meat was imported into the country by local firms and 16 tons of the consignment have entered the food chain. «I am not an expert and I do not know if it is dangerous but we are talking about 7.5-year-old meat and I believe we would all rather not taste it,» Arkoudaris said. According to press reports, Italy and Iran had both refused to buy the Belgian meat.

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