BRUSSELS/WARSAW: The European Commission said on Friday it will send a team of inspectors to Poland, a beef exporter, after a TV report showed a company killing sick cows and selling the meat for human consumption.
Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85 percent exported to countries within the European Union including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany.
Consumer concerns about food safety were raised after a reporter from private broadcaster TVN got a job in a slaughterhouse around 113 km (70 miles) east of Warsaw where he was ordered to kill cows and butcher their meat.
The footage showed sick cows being transported to the slaughterhouse where they were mistreated and killed.
Poland's chief veterinary officer said on Thursday that Polish police had launched a criminal investigation into two companies after the report.
"A team of European Commission auditors are being deployed to Poland on Monday to assess the situation on the ground," a Commission spokesperson told a daily news briefing, adding that the problem may concern 14 EU countries in total.
It said that at the European Commission's request Poland had activated a system to trace and withdraw meat that could potentially be contaminated.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska in Brussels and Marcin Goclowski in Warsaw; Editing by Susan Fenton)