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Swiss meat firm faces scandal over labelling

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Swiss meat firm faces scandal over labelling
Photo: Jewel Samada/AFP
10:56 CET+01:00
Obersee, an international private school based in Pfäffikon in the canton of Schwyz, has cut its contract with a Swiss meat company after discovering that Swiss chicken it ordered for its cafeteria was actually from Hungary, according to a media report.

The case is one of example of dozens of different cases of meat being falsely provided by Carna Grischa, a meat company based in the canton of Graubünden, over a ten-year period, the SonntagsBlick newspaper alleged.

The Obersee school told the newspaper it cancelled its contract with the company, which provided it with 20 to 25 kilograms of meat every month, once it learned of the true provenance of the chicken it was receiving.

“When the irregularities became known we finished dealing with (Carna Grischa) immediately,” said a spokesman for the bilingual English-German school with 400 students.

The school said it placed importance on a healthy diet and paid a premium for Swiss meat.

In an investigative report, published online, SonntagsBlick alleged that Carna Grischa had since 2004 done such things as supplying horse meat instead of beef, declaring frozen food as fresh and changing expiry dates to customers, including catering companies and well-known restaurants.

The company initially denied the allegations.

Ettore Weilenmann, chairman of Carna Grischa, later acknowledged there had been irregularities, which were revealed following an internal investigation that led to two employees being dismissed last Thursday.

But Weilenmann told SonntagsBlick cases of falsely labelled meat were “isolated” and that at least 98 percent of meat delivered by the company was properly declared.

The company, described as one of the five biggest meat traders in Switzerland, has an annual turnover of 30 million francs and employs 60 people.

Carna Grischa went to court in a bid to prevent SonntagsBlick from publishing its report.

But a temporary injunction was lifted by the commercial court of Aargau after it ruled that the report contained information in the “public interest”.

Weilenmann reportedly told SonntagsBlick that competing firms had spied on Carna Grischa in order to harm the company.

He also said that false declarations were “widely” made in the Swiss meat industry.

But that drew an angry rebuttal from Rüdi Hadorn, director of the Swiss Meat Association.

The whole meat industry should not be “dragged through the dirt” because of the problems of one company, Hadorn told the weekly. 

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