In an interview with newspaper SonntagsBlick, Joos Sutter voiced his concern after public broadcaster SF’s consumer show Kassensturz revealed the malpractice at the butcher counters of some Coop supermarkets.
“If the incidents described [in the TV show] are true, we want to apologise to all our customers,” he said, adding that an independent quality control firm will conduct on-the-spot inspections at Coop's meat counters.
Several workers and former employees said that chicken breasts and beef fillets remained on sale for several days beyond their expiration dates, and were often marinated in order to make them look fresh.
Non-organic meat was also labelled at the counter as organic, and imported meat was sold as Swiss. Moreover, they said that these reckless practices were undertaken on the orders of their superiors.
“The orders came from the head butcher; anyone who refused was hassled,” one worker said on the TV show.
One manager, also speaking anonymously, said that head butchers were motivated by sales-related bonuses, with 15 percent of their salary linked to performance. But in the interview, Sutter refuted the idea that this played a role.
The supermarket chain also set up an ombudsman’s office for employees who wish to complain anonymously without fear of reprisals.
According to its CEO, Coop’s sales have not been damaged by the Kassensturz revelations. There has however been a shift in people’s preferences, with more customers opting for frozen meat over fresh.
See also: Coop caught selling old meat as new