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Coop caught selling old meat as new

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Coop caught selling old meat as new
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13:24 CEST+02:00

Former employees of supermarket chain Coop have said that they were occasionally ordered to take old packaged meat off the shelves, repackage it and put it for sale again as fresh meat, even after the expiration date. 

Thomas Lehmann, a former worker at the Coop store in Plaffeien in west central Switzerland, accused the company of breaching food safety laws on SF’s show Kassensturz. The TV programme investigated the allegations and found some witnesses.

“We used to sell this meat as if it was fresh without our customers knowing,” Lehmann said.

Coop workers would wait until the sell-by date before unpacking it and selling it again as fresh meat. Chicken breasts and beef fillets remained on sale for several days after their expiration dates, the ex-worker alleged.

Lehmann also claimed that non-organic meat was labelled at the counter as organic meat, and that imported produce was sold as Swiss.

He said these reckless practices were undertaken on the orders of his superiors. But the former butcher said he disliked the deceit and confronted his bosses, internally reporting violations of food labelling practices. The arguments turned into a bitter dispute and Lehmann eventually lost his job.

Coop spokeswoman Susanne Sugimoto said the company was aware of these allegations but dismissed the charges as part of a “labour dispute.” According to Sugimoto, the company tightened its controls after Lehmann alerted management, but said that no infringement had been found.

But Kassensturz got in touch with three other former workers, who confirmed Lehmann’s version of events. One of them went even further by saying it was not only red meat that was sold after the expiration date, but also fish.

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