Rotten Meat Scandal German Meat Distributor Hangs Himself
As the scandal over out-of-date meat in Germany widens, the main suspect, a Munich wholesaler, has committed suicide. Meanwhile a political row has erupted over food quality control in a country that lives on sausages and Schnitzel.
Dr. Marina Schotte of the Arnsberg state veterinary office inspects a chicken breast from a firm that bought meat from the Munich wholesaler at the heart of the scandal.
The man, who has not been named, ran a firm where authorities found up to 110 tons of rotten meat last week, some of which was more than four years out of date.
The company is believed to have supplied rotten beef, pork and poultry to consumers around Germany and across the European Union. The case has alarmed consumers and sparked a debate over how to tighten controls of food quality.
The European Commission said rotten meat from Bavaria may have been exported to eight EU countries -- Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. A spokesman said authorities in those countries were trying to track down the supplies.
Local authorities in southern Germany last week confiscated tons of meat from distributors and raided a number of restaurants in central Munich after tests on meat impounded earlier pointed to widespread violations.
The 74-year-old manager hanged himself in his flat, a spokeswoman for the Munich police said. He had been under investigation for alleged breaches of food laws, fraud and forging documents.
The case, the latest in a number of scandals over rotten meat supplies in Germany, has led to a political row after Agriculture and Consumer Minister Horst Seehofer accused regional authorities of failing to monitor food quality adequately and called for more central government control of food monitoring. He will meet regional ministers for talks on Thursday.
Seehofer has called for fundamental reforms of food quality controls and tougher sentences for people who break the rules. "In cases where reckless business people motivated by pure greed disregard the health of consumers one should consider closing their companies down," said Seehofer. Current law allowed such forced closure but wasn't applied often enough, he said.
Some commentators have suggested that Germans are falling victims to their obsession with low-priced food which is leading food processors and wholesalers to pay less attention to quality.