Separate meat fraud operations uncovered in the Netherlands and Spain

Several people have been arrested in the Netherlands as part of a fraud investigation involving meat.

The Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Safety Authority (NVWA-IOD) is investigating document fraud involving exported chicken.

Authorities visited two business premises and two homes in late January. Seven people were arrested and one was released after questioning last week.

Searches also took place in Belgium and Spain at three companies likely to work with the suspected Dutch company.

Investigators believe a company based in the eastern Netherlands listed frozen chicken meat as other products, such as fish, in documents and then exported it to countries mainly in Africa .

They review official veterinary certificates and consignment information as well as other trade documents. Dutch media named the wanted business Wegdam Food Link in the town of Haaksbergen.

The purpose of the alleged fraud is believed to be to reduce import duties for the consignee by up to 70%.

NVWA-IOD officials said this type of fraud also poses a risk to food safety. When something goes wrong with a food, it must be possible to know where the product came from and to whom it was delivered. Such tracing is not possible if the official documents are not accurate.

Spanish ham seizures
In another incident, the Spanish Guardia Civil seized nearly 2,000 pieces of meat during an operation against food fraud in the province of Cáceres.

Photo: Guardia Civil

The action led to the arrest of four people and the investigation of five others. Confiscated products include ham, sausages and frozen pork. In addition to nearly 2,000 pieces of meat, authorities blocked 760 kilograms of sausages and 4,500 kilograms of frozen meat.

Operation Sekai began in November 2020 after activity was detected at a closed meat factory in an industrial area in the town of Malpartida de Plasencia.

Officials discovered that operations such as the storage, distribution and marketing of food products of animal origin were carried out without control by local authorities because the site was not registered.

An inspection found meat products with altered or expired use-by dates, a non-existent number of producers or packers, and problems with registration, labeling and traceability.

The products were sent to commercial establishments in the provinces of Caceres, Badajoz, Salamanca and Toledo. The company also had ties to companies based in Salamanca, Toledo, Badajoz, Biscay and Madrid.

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