Activists take horse meat scandal to court

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Dutch food watchdog, Foodwatch, have announced that they are going to demand openness around the meat scandal, and will serve slaughterhouse Van Hattem BV with an injunction, they write on their website. 

The court case will take place on the 20th of May in Amsterdam.

The group earlier went to the Netherlands Food and Wares Authority (NVWA) to demand the information about the end products that may contain possible unsafe meat be made public under the Openness of Administration Law (Wob). At the time, the NVWA refused, claiming they were not in possession of that information.

According to Foodwatch, this is impossible as various buyers of the possibly unsafe meat had announced themselves at the NVWA.

The reason for the uproar is the recent horse meat scandal. In February, the NVWA recalled 28 million kilos of meat that came from the Van Hattem BV slaughterhouse as horse DNA was discovered in several beef products. This meat was delivered to supermarkets and restaurants, and also consumers. It was also thought that unidentified meat may have been processed into the product. The origin of the meat could not be determined, leading the NVWA to stamping the mean 'unsafe'.

Foodwatch has criticized the NVWA for not informing consumers which products were affected. This is allowed by law, but the group says the NVWA decided not to do this, consciously leaving consumers unaware. The horse meat scandal in 2013, in which the NVWA recalled 50 million kilos of mean from meat processor Selten, also left consumers in the dark.

Foodwatch writes that the organization has chosen to plead for an injunction because "the case is urgent. Some meat products can be kept very long and can still be lying with consumers in the freezer. That's why it is important that consumers are informed as soon as possible, so that they know which products are affected."

The demand for clarity under the Openness of Administration Law was rejected, leading Foodwatch to file an objection. The organization says that waiting for the process takes too long, and will now step to the judge. The case will be a public hearing on the 20th of May, 2014, at 11:30 a.m. in Amsterdam.