Belgian meat processing plant VEVIBA closed by food safety watchdog for fraud on products

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BRUSSELS, March 8 (Xinhua) -- The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) said on Thursday it has pre-emptively closed the Verbist Group's meat processing plant and cold store VEVIBA in Bastogne,south Belgium, following a case of fraud on meat labels.

Meanwhile, the food safety watchdog has checked all establishments of the Verbist Group in Belgium.

Investigators found a problem in a slaughterhouse in Bastogne where some labels on frozen meat were removed and replaced by others with more recent dates.

"This can potentially be a risk, especially for people who consume raw meat, although for well-cooked meat the risk is lower," Philippe Houdart, former spokesperson of FASFC, was quoted by local media as saying in a press release.

Two products have been identified as potentially risky for consumers: minced meat as well as cow tails sold to other companies.

They are being withdrawn at once from the Belgian market. However, the FASFC could not clearly determine how much the meat processed in VEVIBA's slaughterhouse has already reached Belgian stores and supermarkets across the country.

"Today, for precaution reasons, mass retailers have withdrawn all the VEVIBA products they have received, with the exception of some products deemed risk-free", said the FASFC.

The FASFC will continue to keep the public informed as progress is made on this issue, and takes necessary measures to inform and protect consumers.

Delhaize and Colruyt, two large Belgian supermarket chains, have announced that they suspend all collaboration with VEVIBA.