A meat processing company in the Netherlands has been fined for not fully cooperating during a recall of pork possibly contaminated with Salmonella in 2018.

The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) imposed the fine of more than €500,000 ($552,000) as the firm took “insufficient measures” to withdraw pork that could have been contaminated with Salmonella Goldcoast.

A business is obliged to withdraw food from the market if there are reasons to believe that it does not comply with food safety regulations.

The meat processor also asked customers to ignore instructions from the NVWA to withdraw products from the market, according to the agency.

First turnover-related fine
An NVWA spokesman told Food Safety News that the law in the Netherlands does not allow the agency to name the company.

Because there was intent, in the NVWA’s opinion, and the company has a turnover of more than €10 million ($11 million) a turnover-related fine was imposed. It is the first time the NVWA has imposed such a fine on a company but the business can still object to the penalty.

At the end of 2018, NVWA traced the source of contaminated pork with Salmonella Goldcoast to a pig slaughterhouse. Potentially tainted pork was sold from early June to late October 2018.

The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) retrospectively noted an increase in Salmonella Goldcoast infections from June 2018 which prompted an investigation in October into the possible source by RIVM and NVWA.

RIVM normally sees around eight cases of Salmonella Goldcoast a year but 19 patients had been registered. Some of them could be linked to a specific slaughterhouse via DNA typing.

Water temperature at the slaughterhouse was lowered from 68 degrees C (154 degrees F) to 48 degrees C (118 degrees F), creating conditions for bacteria development. The 68 degrees C temperature was reinstated in October to prevent a possible recurrence of contamination.

International angle
NVWA started a tracing campaign for all pork from the slaughterhouse from early June to late October.

All involved companies to which pork was supplied, including the fined meat processing company, had to withdraw the products in which the pork was processed. If firms do not cooperate with such a recall it is a violation of the law and NVWA can impose sanctions.

The associated Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) alert on Salmonella in pig meat from the Netherlands lists 60 countries being potentially affected including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Belgian authorities issued a warning that some meat products could be contaminated with Salmonella following processing of potentially contaminated raw materials in December 2018. No increase was detected in Salmonella infections in 2018 compared to the previous year.

Recalls in the country were issued by Vleeswaren Peeters and Imperial Meat Products, part of the Campofrio Food Group.

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