The Dutch food safety agency NVWA has failed its inspections of meat products company Offerman. This is evidenced by a study conducted by the Dutch channel RTL Nieuws. At Offerman, the risk of Listeria has been underestimated for years, as it turns out. The company received several warnings about expiration dates, but no action was taken on them.
In the end, six people died as a result of infection with the listeria bacteria. About 35 people became seriously ill, and two women had a miscarriage. The Belgian company Ter Beke, which acquired the plant from Aalsmeer at the end of 2017, closed after a food scandal.
RTL Nieuws published a timeline of the listeria scandal on Thursday, which erupted in the fall of 2019. This indicates that the processed meat company actually received its first written warning on June 30, 2016. An NVWA inspector questioned the best dates the company used before that. In the same year, listeria was found in crème paté and a year later in beef sausage. In October 2017, there was the first case of the disease. “The risk assessment was low and the presence of Listeria was below the level,” the authority said in a response Thursday.
NVWA sent Offerman three warnings, but they ultimately did not intervene, according to documents published by RTL Nieuws. Since July 2017, there hasn’t even been a single inspection. NVWA inspectors were very busy and prioritized inspections at other companies.
There was also a judicial investigation, but in the end Ter Beek was not prosecuted, due to the lack of evidence of a crime.
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