Cases have come to light where meat intended for fresh sale in Europe is being frozen right before its expiry date and exported to Iceland.
One example from this year, which was reported this week, was when the East Iceland public health agency stopped 100 kg of Australian beef from being cooked.
The meat was to be cooked on the official First Day of Summer (24 April 2014) for the staff at the Reyðarfjörður aluminum smelter, but when the steaks were being unpaked it was noticed that the inner packaging bore a different stamp to the outer packaging. The meat had been packed in Australia in October 2012 and exported to the Netherlands. The expiry date was 140 days later: the 13th March 2013. It is not known how the meat was stored during that time, but there are commercially used methods that can keep meat fresh for that long at -1°C or -2°C without it freezing.
With two days left before the cut off date, the Australian meat was frozen, sold to Iceland and given a new expiry date two years in the future – until March 2015. Public health officials were made aware of the situation and stopped the meat before it could be cooked.
It is not legal to re-date food products in that manner, RÚV reports.
The importing company in Iceland had nothing to do with the re-labeling and says it did not get the meat at a discount price. Sælkeradreifing says it does not condone the procedure, but remains adamant the meat was safe. Company staff tasted the meat that came back from Reyðarfjörður and said it tasted completely normal. The 100 kg came from a shipment of 356 kg of beef – much of which has been eaten already.
The company says it will not bear the loss on the 100 kg of beef – especially as it broke no rules itself. It intends to claim compensation from the exporter.
Uncooked foreign meat coming to Iceland must be shipped frozen, and it is therefore common for meat intended for fresh sale on the mainland to then be frozen for export to Iceland, a Sælkeradreifing spokesman said – naming Danish veal as an example.