Lithuanian authorities have stopped the supply of 75 tons of what they described as “unsafe” poultry meat in the first quarter of 2020.

The State Food and Veterinary Service (VMVT) performed more than 800 targeted inspections of imported poultry meat in the quarter. Most of these were related to the risk of avian influenza in Poland at the end of last year and to protect the Lithuanian poultry sector.

Of the 19 batches of unsafe poultry, 18 originated in Poland. The agency reported no human pathogenic microorganisms had been detected in Lithuanian poultry this year.

Inspectors recently banned the sale of three batches totaling 25 tons of fresh Polish poultry contaminated with Salmonella. After detection of any type of Salmonella in Lithuania, the sale of products is prohibited.

Poultry meat, like other food products, is inspected by specialists at wholesale, processing plants and markets. According to VMVT data, poultry imported to Lithuania from other countries accounts for about 20 percent of the market with most of it coming from Poland followed by Latvia.

In 2019, VMVT banned the supply of almost 200 tons of poultry meat to the Lithuanian market, which was contaminated with Salmonella. Most of the products unfit for consumption were imported from Poland but 12 percent consisted of Hungarian and Lithuanian poultry.

Domestic issues
In February this year, retail chain Maxima temporarily suspended sales of fresh chilled meat and semi-finished products because of the detection of Salmonella in self-monitoring checks.

VMVT inspections at the retailer, supplier meat processor Biovela Group, and a logistics warehouse found no grounds for further action. Officials noted it was not possible to assess the batches that were linked to suspected Salmonella contamination as expiration dates had passed and cleaning and disinfection had been performed.

An investigation instructed Maxima to provide VMVT with information on identified unsafe products within the deadlines set by legislation, which is no later than 24 hours, to ensure accurate traceability of raw materials and manufactured products. Biovela Group was told to strengthen hygiene control of the production process and tighten self-control testing procedures. Both companies could be fined by authorities.

According to the Center for Communicable Diseases and AIDS (ULAC), 747 people with salmonellosis were registered in 2019, which is 49 less than the year before. In January 2020, the number was about the same as the corresponding period in 2019 with 27 versus 31 cases.

The highest incidence in 2019 was recorded in children under six years of age, which was up to 10 times higher than the population average. Seven outbreaks of salmonellosis were investigated in preschools.

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