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Vion Food Furious over Forced Closure of Beef Processing Plant

12 March 2014

GERMANY - Meat processing company VION Foods has hit out at the authorities in Schleswig Holstein for closing down its slaughterhouse in Bad Bramstedt over concerns about animal welfare and breaches of hygiene regulations.

The Ministry of Energy Transition, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Areas (Melur) closed the plant by withdrawing its licences.

The ministry said it took the action in line with Article 31, paragraph 2, letter E to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004.

The ministry said the operator was consulted beforehand.

Minister Robert Habeck said: “Having inspected the documents seized by the prosecutor in Kiel, Melur was forced to take this step.”

The minister added that even after multiple spot checks at the Vion plant in Bad Bramsted, with the most recent on 25 February, the Melur had recorded serious violations of animal welfare legislation, food hygiene legislation and labelling requirements.

It said that the requirements of section 9 paragraph 2 of the Regulation on the hygiene requirements for manufacture, handling, and marketing of certain products of animal origin (Animal Food Hygiene Regulation) of 8 August 2007 were no longer being fulfilled.

However, Vion Food Gropup said that the decisions and action taken by the Minister for Energy, Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Areas in Schleswig-Holstein against VION Food and its processing plant in Bad Bramstedt were incomprehensible.

The company said that “unimpressed by the five objective and professional assessments carried out by independent institutes, which attest to the irreproachability of the plant and recommend the resumption of production, the Minister wants to maintain the shutdown of production”.

The company added: “Instead of entering into a dialogue, as offered by VION on a daily basis, and conducting transparent discussions for the sake of the site, the jobs and the regional economy, the Ministry is seeking withdrawal of the licence held by Schleswig-Holstein's largest beef processing plant.

“There appears to be no discernible reason for the heavy-handed approach taken by the politicians and the authorities in respect of VION and the agriculture in Schleswig-Holstein.

“VION vehemently objects to the reasons for the escalation of the situation provided by the Ministry on Friday afternoon and for which the Ministry is accountable, and will use every means at its disposal to defend itself.

“In addition to the accelerated legal process at the administrative court of Schleswig-Holstein, the company is looking into and preparing other legal measures, including a claim for compensation amounting to millions of euros.”

TheMeatSite News Desk

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