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Food store chains under fire for selling out-of-date product

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PORKER

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Groceries gone bad for lack of product Traceback

Food store chains under fire for selling out-of-date products

By František Bouc
Staff Writer, The Prague Post
November 02, 2005

Spoiled, stinky meat. Moldy cheese. Expired dairy products. For some supermarkets, the above items have become staples of their product lines, and people familiar with the situation wonder if the competitive nature of the retail food business in this country is behind the problem.

"The practices of many retailers appear to be really audacious. They seem to be ready to sell almost anything. The situation has come to a head," says Inka Laudová, director of the State Agriculture and Food Inspection Office (SZPI).

Laudová said daily random checks of supermarkets show that bad food has not disappeared from food store shelves since the scandal was uncovered earlier this year. Food inspectors continue to find rotten fruit and vegetables, she said, as well as many expired food items.

"This is clear proof that particular cases are not mere failures of particular managers but rather a failure of the entire system," said Ivana Picková, head of the Union for Customers' Protection.

SZPI chief food inspector Jakub Šebesta believes the price war between food retail chains is at the root of the problem. "I suppose that an effort to sell at the lowest possible price can lead to controversial practices," Šebesta said.

However, market analysts predict that grocers encouraging such practices to shore up the bottom line may soon discover the huge price tag that comes with them. "Loyalty to retailers who sell fast-moving consumer goods is very low compared to other products, and so it'll be quite difficult for retailers who now lose customers to get them back later," said EMC Public Relations analyst Radim Kamler.


Inspections turn up the heat

Supermarkets in this country came under scrutiny after recent checks conducted by SZPI showed serious shortcomings in hygienic standards. During random checks, food inspectors encountered sales of spoiled meat, moldy cheese and other bad food. To make matters worse, the checks showed that the staff in some supermarkets were directed to break the law.

"In late September, in a Julius Meinl supermarket in České Budějovice, inspectors found shop assistants who were ordered by their manager to 'refresh' expired meat and other food by washing them in vinegar or scraping mold from it," said SZPI spokeswoman Daniela Kolejková. Julius Meinl was recently taken over by Ahold, which also owns Hypernova.

The police subsequently initiated investigations of that particular shop manager.

In another check of a Hypernova supermarket in Jindřichův Hradec, inspectors found dead rats under food shelves.

Although SZPI regularly encounters shortcomings in various retail chains, the extent of shortcomings in Julius Meinl in České Budějovice and Hypernova in Jindřichův Hradec was unprecedented, Kolejková pointed out. The two cases received significant media attention and raised turmoil among shoppers who began sending the SZPI complaints about other chains including Carrefour and Billa.

Kolejková said the SZPI received more than 200 complaints from shoppers in October. "This is the biggest influx of complaints that we've ever experienced, Kolejková said.

Throughout this year, Kolejková said, the SZPI inspected 4,000 of the stores owned by all retail chains operating in the country. They discovered shortcomings in half the cases. And though the number of violations the agency found remained about level with the same period last year, the severity of violations found this year was astounding.


Blame suppliers and managers

Kateřina Černá, spokeswoman for the Dutch holding company Ahold, which runs Hypernova, said food suppliers and in particular supermarket managers were responsible for the shortcomings. "We will terminate our contracts with the suppliers who are manipulating expiry dates on products," Černá said.

Ahold Central Europe President Jacquot Boelen said the company has hired an independent company to inspect its outlets in this country.

Retail chains are also attempting to improve their tainted image. Not only are they stepping up internal audits, but they are also trying to increase transparency of operations.

For example, two big-size flat screens were installed in a Hypernova supermarket in Prague-Butovice, and shoppers can watch workers live as they process meat in the back of the store.

For its part, Delvita is now inviting customers to enter premises where meat is being processed. "Hundreds of people have already visited the premises," said Delvita spokesman Petr Uchytil.

Customers of Ahold outlets can report complaints over its newly installed toll-free line.


Hefty fines on the horizon

The ongoing breach of standards in the sale of food also has state authorities considering larger sanctions against food retailers. Today, a negative retail inspection permits a fine of not more than 1 million Kč ($40,650).

"If future inspections discover serious shortcomings, we may amend particular laws, raising sanctions for giant retail chains so that they would deliver real punishment to them," said Industry and Trade Minister Milan Urban.

To that end, the Agricultural Ministry is working on an amendment governing the sale of food, said Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba. The new law would permit fines of up to 50 million Kč for retail chains that significantly violate hygienic standards of food sales.

František Bouc can be reached at [email protected]
 

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International News



29 November 2005
Consumers react strongly to meat scandal

Danish consumers are likely to take a critical line on the quality of meat after out-of-date German meat was sold in Denmark


Jens Nørgaard Larsen/ Scanpix
Danish consumers are likely to take a critical line on the quality of meat
An escalating scandal involving the sale of rotten German meat has spread over the border into Denmark, and is likely to have a major impact on consumer's faith in the quality of meat and the inspection system, Danish meat industry representatives warned on Tuesday.

'Each time we have a food quality scandal or some other case that undermines food quality, we are influenced by it,' said Peder Philipp, vice president of the Danish Livestock and Meat Board. 'Consumers quite naturally question whether the inspections are good enough. That's why a case like this is almost inexcusable.'

Danish food safety authorities are currently investigating a case in which five tonnes of out-of-date German meat were sold to Danish wholesalers.

Some of the meat, two tonnes of bacon, was sold on to pizzerias and canteens by catering firm Catering Engros.

Both Catering Engros and the Danish importers, Kipo and Danfond, said they had purchased the meat in the belief that it was fresh. The initial results of the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration's investigation support the companies' claims. The administration says it appears that the meat's expiry date was altered in Germany.

The case involving the German meat is the second in recent days involving the sale of expired meat.

Police have charged Danish company Tannis for altering the expiry date of turkey meat it sold to a German company in a broader German investigation into its meat industry.

In all, 84 tonnes of minced turkey meat from Denmark were sold to German companies implicated in the investigation.

Reports of problems within the meat industry only serve to undermine consumer confidence in the system, Philipp said.

'Meat is transported over long distances, and therefore it is extremely important that the inspection system works in all countries. It also means that Danish consumers will look more critically, regardless of where the meat comes from,' he said.

/ritzau/
 

PORKER

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Germany | 24.11.2005

Rotten Meat Ruins Consumers' Appetites

Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Suspect meat has been undergoing tests
A crackdown on the meat processing industry in Germany has uncovered cases of spoiled frozen food. Consumer advocates are now questioning the effectiveness of routine health controls.

An agricultural ministry spokesperson said 11 from 16 tests showed the confiscated frozen meat, which included poultry, horse, pork and beef, was past its use-by date and spoiled. The announcement came just days after another business in the same state was closed for allegedly selling chicken meat that had gone bad and had no traceback information.


The meat originated in the European Union countries of Germany, Spain, and Italy, as well as Brazil. Officials are continuing to trace onward sales, but said there was no evidence so far the meat had ended up on consumers' plates.

Sixty tons of the meat was supplied by the wholesaler Dorenz, which is already under scrutiny by the district attorney’s office in Essen for allegedly selling spoiled goods. The other thirty tons came from a firm in Baden-Württemberg.

Bad beef

The scandal surrounding Dorenz first came to light at the end of October, when a routine check found three tons of spoiled roast beef, which had been reportedly relabeled with a new expiration date. Officers on Friday also confiscated nearly 60 tons of chicken that had passed its sell-by date.

Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Rotten chicken meat was found twice in one month
Authorities in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where Dorenz is based, are in the process of investigating 100 refrigerated warehouses. A spokesperson for the NRW consumer affairs ministry said on Wednesday more than 40 warehouses had already been checked, and there were no further traces of rotten meat.

NRW's Consumer Affairs Minister Eckhard Uhlenberg has announced a tightening of food controls across the state. But he said that tests showed the spoiled meat posed no health risk.

Farmers' critique

The German Farmers’ Federation has criticized public health officials for failing to properly monitor wholesalers and brokers. But, spokesperson Richer Bröcker, said that tightening controls won’t necessarily solve the problem. “It’s like car theft,” he said. “Even if (courts) pass down a hundred sentences, it still happens.”

Matthias Wolfschmidt from the consumer organization Foodwatch said the latest meat scandal was just the tip of the iceberg. In an interview with the consumer protection magazine Guter Rat, Wolfschmidt said fraud in the meat industry was “the order of the day everywhere.”

He said ordinary citizens rarely found out about it because officials kept the cases secret. Wolfschmidt pointed out that two recent meat scandals in Bavaria and Lower Saxony were exposed by workers.

“If we had left it up to food controllers to uncover the cases, we probably wouldn’t have found out about it,” he said.
 

PORKER

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This Could Not happen here in the US or could IT????

During random checks, food inspectors encountered sales of spoiled meat, moldy cheese and other bad food. To make matters worse, the checks showed that the staff in some supermarkets were directed to break the law.

"In late September, in a Julius Meinl supermarket in České Budějovice, inspectors found shop assistants who were ordered by their manager to 'refresh' expired meat and other food by washing them in vinegar or scraping mold from it,"
 
A

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PORKER said:
This Could Not happen here in the US or could IT????

During random checks, food inspectors encountered sales of spoiled meat, moldy cheese and other bad food. To make matters worse, the checks showed that the staff in some supermarkets were directed to break the law.

"In late September, in a Julius Meinl supermarket in České Budějovice, inspectors found shop assistants who were ordered by their manager to 'refresh' expired meat and other food by washing them in vinegar or scraping mold from it,"

Here we just package the meat in gas so it changes the color and you can't tell it is spoiling :( But that is good marketing- right MRJ :wink:
 

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The German Farmers’ Federation has criticized public health officials for failing to properly monitor wholesalers and brokers. But, spokesperson Richer Bröcker, said that tightening controls won’t necessarily solve the problem. “It’s like car theft,” he said. “Even if (courts) pass down a hundred sentences, it still happens.”

Have we seen this from Canada ,US. and Mexico before ? Oldtimer Here we just package the meat in gas so it changes the color and you can't tell if it's is spoiling But that is good marketing- right MRJ Just one more way to do a coverup?

SSI would stop this in a hurry or maybe some don't want the gravey train to stop ! CHEAP TRIM
 

mrj

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PORKER said:
The German Farmers’ Federation has criticized public health officials for failing to properly monitor wholesalers and brokers. But, spokesperson Richer Bröcker, said that tightening controls won’t necessarily solve the problem. “It’s like car theft,” he said. “Even if (courts) pass down a hundred sentences, it still happens.”

Have we seen this from Canada ,US. and Mexico before ? Oldtimer Here we just package the meat in gas so it changes the color and you can't tell if it's is spoiling But that is good marketing- right MRJ Just one more way to do a coverup?

SSI would stop this in a hurry or maybe some don't want the gravey train to stop ! CHEAP TRIM

What I want to know is what does the science and the FACTS show us about the ACCUSATIONS by someone who saw this as tougher competition than they wanted to face, as contrasted with the FACTS of that procedure being used as it is supposed to be used. AGAIN: the research I've read/heard about this procedure is that it is a safe, effective means of keeping the appearance in accordance with the QUALITY of the beef. That does NOT mean hiding spoiled meat!!!

I don't believe anyone has answered my question. AGAIN: has there been ANY complaint of, evidence of, and proof of this procedure being used to cover up spoiked beef?

MRJ
 

mrj

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PORKER said:
This Could Not happen here in the US or could IT????

During random checks, food inspectors encountered sales of spoiled meat, moldy cheese and other bad food. To make matters worse, the checks showed that the staff in some supermarkets were directed to break the law.

"In late September, in a Julius Meinl supermarket in České Budějovice, inspectors found shop assistants who were ordered by their manager to 'refresh' expired meat and other food by washing them in vinegar or scraping mold from it,"

That last paragraph sounds very much like what pioneers here did when the meat and other foods, maybe all they had on hand and living at least a days' horseback or buggy ride to the store, made do with what was available even if it wasn't the freshest. Could those practices be similar in nations where the poor people still are having a hard time getting enough to eat? Maybe this is less due to the greed of evil corporate grocers than it is a problem even getting enough meat for the people. Shouldn't we look at ALL the possibilities rather than rush to judge that which is so far away and which we know so little about?

MRJ
 

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The problem I have with this is the amount of time & money spent on educating consumers on meat safety, education, etc. I believe using gas is decptive. The following statement is from a cooperative effort of Montana State University and Saskatchewan Food Product Innovation Program University of Saskatchewan. (From a color and safety program for meat)

"Color is the single most important factor
of meat products that influences
consumer buying decision and affects
their perception of the freshness of the
product. Knowing the factors that affect
color is important to understanding
problems when they occur. Everyone
dealing with meat products should have
a working knowledge of the color."

An entire educational program was designed just to teach safety & freshness based around color.

I try make decisions based on merit and do not run with any all for one and one for all pack. As it does not extend the freshness of the food and only the color, it is my belief that the only use for this practice is deceptive. If the meat is getting close to the end of its shelf life, put a sale price on it and move it like everyone else does.
 

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fedup2 said:
The problem I have with this is the amount of time & money spent on educating consumers on meat safety, education, etc. I believe using gas is decptive. The following statement is from a cooperative effort of Montana State University and Saskatchewan Food Product Innovation Program University of Saskatchewan. (From a color and safety program for meat)

"Color is the single most important factor
of meat products that influences
consumer buying decision and affects
their perception of the freshness of the
product. Knowing the factors that affect
color is important to understanding
problems when they occur. Everyone
dealing with meat products should have
a working knowledge of the color."

An entire educational program was designed just to teach safety & freshness based around color.

I try make decisions based on merit and do not run with any all for one and one for all pack. As it does not extend the freshness of the food and only the color, it is my belief that the only use for this practice is deceptive. If the meat is getting close to the end of its shelf life, put a sale price on it and move it like everyone else does.

In your view should cattle feeders not be allowed to feed vitamin E & D to their cattle to enhance shelf life and color of the end product? The case-ready process does in fact extend the freshness and shelf life of beef. That is one of its major attributes coupled with food safety advantages and shrink control.

Case-ready product has gained very good acceptance by consumers. The major advantages listed by consumers are extended shelf life, consistency of product and non-drip or leak packaging.
 

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agman said:
fedup2 said:
The problem I have with this is the amount of time & money spent on educating consumers on meat safety, education, etc. I believe using gas is decptive. The following statement is from a cooperative effort of Montana State University and Saskatchewan Food Product Innovation Program University of Saskatchewan. (From a color and safety program for meat)

"Color is the single most important factor
of meat products that influences
consumer buying decision and affects
their perception of the freshness of the
product. Knowing the factors that affect
color is important to understanding
problems when they occur. Everyone
dealing with meat products should have
a working knowledge of the color."

An entire educational program was designed just to teach safety & freshness based around color.

I try make decisions based on merit and do not run with any all for one and one for all pack. As it does not extend the freshness of the food and only the color, it is my belief that the only use for this practice is deceptive. If the meat is getting close to the end of its shelf life, put a sale price on it and move it like everyone else does.

In your view should cattle feeders not be allowed to feed vitamin E & D to their cattle to enhance shelf life and color of the end product? The case-ready process does in fact extend the freshness and shelf life of beef. That is one of its major attributes coupled with food safety advantages and shrink control.

Case-ready product has gained very good acceptance by consumers. The major advantages listed by consumers are extended shelf life, consistency of product and non-drip or leak packaging.

Tell me, Agman, do you see anyting wrong if a consumer is using color to make a judgement on a purchase as they have been educated believing the color is an indicator of the beef's freshness but the fact was the color was a result of a chemical reaction instead?
 

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"The agency bypassed the required procedure for carbon monoxide to obtain a color additive designation, a necessary precondition for making it legal to use carbon monoxide in fresh meat packaging, the company stated."

"The US department of agriculture's regulations prohibit the introduction of ingredients in fresh meat that function to conceal damage or inferiority, or give the appearance the product is of better or greater value."

"The use of carbon monoxide has been banned in other countries. In 2003, the EU prohibited the use of carbon monoxide for meat and tuna products. In its decision, the European Commission's food safety regulator stated that "the stable cherry-colour can last beyond the microbial shelf life of the meat and thus mask spoilage.""

Several countries including Japan, Canada and Singapore also ban the use of carbon monoxide in tuna.

"At the very least, the public has a right to know about the use of carbon monoxide in their food," Berdahl stated. " If the FDA won't prohibit it, the government should require a label that informs consumers about the presence of carbon monoxide and the health dangers it presents."


Agman, If a BSE tested sticker is deceptive, and not using a USDA inspected sticker is deceptive to the consumer, then clearly not marking this as carbon monoxide added is also deceptive!
Doesn't vacuum packing itself add to shelf life? Does the carbon monoxide add anything except color? I cannot find any information where the carbon monoxide adds anything over the actual difference in packaging as per shelf life.(except color)
 

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MRJ writes: "I don't believe anyone has answered my question. AGAIN: has there been ANY complaint of, evidence of, and proof of this procedure being used to cover up spoiked beef?"

How would anyone know if the carbon monoxide hid the problem as there is no way of knowing it is added! There are no labels required on the packaging!

My wife has taken meat back before because it was spoiled and exchanged it. Most of the time no questions asked. One time when she bought 5 pds of burger and the center was dark brown and stunk, they had put fresh burger around it. The meat department guy said they often take the 1 pd packages and put them together as 5 pds to sale them out close to expiration. He agreed that it was bad and gave her 5 pks of 1 pds so she could see that it was fresh. It was the last time we bought meat there!
The point I'm making with this story is we did not publish it in the newspaper or on the internet. So when you ask for proof of something are you only talking about large scale frauds or every day instances! And no I am not blaming this on carbon monoxide! LOL! Just making a point.
 

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I guess my pork loin deal is more of an every day occurence even internationally. It is the USDA's regulatory role to make sure these things do not happen. It is in the grocer's long run interest to have adequate regulatory enforcement.

MRJ, maybe you would be willing to buy some of that out of date meat. We could mark out the date on it and no one could ever prove to you that it was out of date so there would never be any returns. Who is your local grocer? Maybe we should inform him of your positions. This could be a new profit center for packers that would allow packers to pay cattlemen more money. It could be a win-win for everyone.
 

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Found a little more information. On the articles that are 'pro' this method, they lump the packaging and carbon monoxide together as far as shelf life. The scientific studies break them down and say the carbon monoxide adds color (I use the word 'adds' because the color can be varied by the % used) but does not extend shelf life. It is the packaging that extends shelf life. I find this interesting and am only posting it for discussion not arguement. It has been an excellent discussion so far!

"Laura Tarantino, director of the office of food-additive safety at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, noted the companies stated "that the CO (carbon monoxide) is included in the modified atmosphere to help maintain the characteristic color of fresh meat."

"Precept states that the CO is not intended to affect microbial growth and will not extend the shelf life of the product."

"The European Union banned the use of carbon monoxide in meat in 2003 after a scientific panel concluded the process deceives consumers and exposes them to unsafe meat."

"Elizabeth Campbell, former head of FDA's office of food labeling and now an industry consultant, questioned the FDA's decisions.
"The FDA should not have accepted carbon monoxide in meat without doing its own independent evaluation of the safety implications," she said."
 

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fedup2 said:
Found a little more information. On the articles that are 'pro' this method, they lump the packaging and carbon monoxide together as far as shelf life. The scientific studies break them down and say the carbon monoxide adds color (I use the word 'adds' because the color can be varied by the % used) but does not extend shelf life. It is the packaging that extends shelf life. I find this interesting and am only posting it for discussion not arguement. It has been an excellent discussion so far!

"Laura Tarantino, director of the office of food-additive safety at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, noted the companies stated "that the CO (carbon monoxide) is included in the modified atmosphere to help maintain the characteristic color of fresh meat."

"Precept states that the CO is not intended to affect microbial growth and will not extend the shelf life of the product."

"The European Union banned the use of carbon monoxide in meat in 2003 after a scientific panel concluded the process deceives consumers and exposes them to unsafe meat."

"Elizabeth Campbell, former head of FDA's office of food labeling and now an industry consultant, questioned the FDA's decisions.
"The FDA should not have accepted carbon monoxide in meat without doing its own independent evaluation of the safety implications," she said."

The FDA like the USDA, is apt to make decisions based on the political contributions to their masters and not on the "science" that they are supposed to use. This is what happens when you have captive agencies and no accountability for the politicians supposedly having oversight of these agencies.

Something stinks in the state of Denmark and the stink is getting worse.
 

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Sandhusker said:
agman said:
fedup2 said:
The problem I have with this is the amount of time & money spent on educating consumers on meat safety, education, etc. I believe using gas is decptive. The following statement is from a cooperative effort of Montana State University and Saskatchewan Food Product Innovation Program University of Saskatchewan. (From a color and safety program for meat)

"Color is the single most important factor
of meat products that influences
consumer buying decision and affects
their perception of the freshness of the
product. Knowing the factors that affect
color is important to understanding
problems when they occur. Everyone
dealing with meat products should have
a working knowledge of the color."

An entire educational program was designed just to teach safety & freshness based around color.

I try make decisions based on merit and do not run with any all for one and one for all pack. As it does not extend the freshness of the food and only the color, it is my belief that the only use for this practice is deceptive. If the meat is getting close to the end of its shelf life, put a sale price on it and move it like everyone else does.

In your view should cattle feeders not be allowed to feed vitamin E & D to their cattle to enhance shelf life and color of the end product? The case-ready process does in fact extend the freshness and shelf life of beef. That is one of its major attributes coupled with food safety advantages and shrink control.

Case-ready product has gained very good acceptance by consumers. The major advantages listed by consumers are extended shelf life, consistency of product and non-drip or leak packaging.

Tell me, Agman, do you see anyting wrong if a consumer is using color to make a judgement on a purchase as they have been educated believing the color is an indicator of the beef's freshness but the fact was the color was a result of a chemical reaction instead?

I see a problem if color is altered. However, that is vastly different from a process that allows meat to stay fresh longer and maintain its natural color for that extended period. If you have any evidence that the case-ready process used by U.S packers fails in that regard then present your facts. Here-say is dissallowed.
 

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Agman, "I see a problem if color is altered. However, that is vastly different from a process that allows meat to stay fresh longer and maintain its natural color for that extended period."

Fedup offered this, "Laura Tarantino, director of the office of food-additive safety at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, noted the companies stated "that the CO (carbon monoxide) is included in the modified atmosphere to help maintain the characteristic color of fresh meat."

"Precept states that the CO is not intended to affect microbial growth and will not extend the shelf life of the product"

Your comments?
 

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Sandhusker said:
Agman, "I see a problem if color is altered. However, that is vastly different from a process that allows meat to stay fresh longer and maintain its natural color for that extended period."

Fedup offered this, "Laura Tarantino, director of the office of food-additive safety at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, noted the companies stated "that the CO (carbon monoxide) is included in the modified atmosphere to help maintain the characteristic color of fresh meat."

"Precept states that the CO is not intended to affect microbial growth and will not extend the shelf life of the product"

Your comments?

CO is not the only product included in a high oxygen environment. Product life is extended by several days with the combination of CO and other products. That is my answer.

What is the backround of the person and agency making the posted statements? For all you and I know they may be a front for PETA!!
 

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Sandhusker, you quoted Ms. Tarantino as saying "the CO is included in the modified atmosphere to help maintain the characteristic color of fresh meat".

She did NOT say it was to keep the color fresh looking after the meat spoiled!

NO ONE has yet posted anything to show there has been ANY consumer who purchased spoiled meat packaged in this manner.

NO ONE has yet posted anything to show there has been any testing that showed a problem with spoilage within the dated time on the packages, nor even post date.........so has there been any real problem? Even any problem identified in studies?

ALL we have here is a "news release" by a company that apparently feels threatened by the competition from this superior method of packaging beef, so far as any posts on this thread can show.

I has earmarks of a business wanting government to regulate the competitive edge, researched, developed and applied at considerable cost, by another beef seller out of existence, IMO.

MRJ
 

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