The National Police have arrested three people following the seizure of over 50 tonnes of frozen food products which had passed their sell-by dates. The three appeared in court yesterday, and they are the owner and two managers of a company based in Marratxi. They are accused of various crimes against public health, employee rights and the Social Security and also face charges of fraud and forgery.
Investigations began early this month when police learned that the company could have been in breach of health and safety regulations in respect of food storage and distribution as well as of employee rights. Officers made several visits to the company premises and also to those of suppliers and clients. Two industrial units, one in Marratxi and the other in Palma, were found to have numerous irregularities.
Frozen meat which had passed its sell-by date was found. It had been modified and lacked identification or traceability. In addition, smoked salmon, cooked octopus, tinned food and various other products were found to be beyond their expiry dates. In some instances, products were three years out of date.
Original labels had been changed and falsified, products had been thawed in hot water so they could be served as "fresh" meat, pig guts and blood had been added in order to increase product weight. Salmonella bacteria were detected in a batch of chopped veal to which the pig parts had been added. However, no evidence of food poisoning has been found.
The company, which was registered in 2011, distributed to restaurants, hotels and schools in Majorca. Its operations were closed down on 16 March on the order of the health ministry, whose department of food safety had received the initial complaint about the company before referring the matter to the police.
As well as the irregularities with the food, there were those with staff. They were working ten-hour days for between 600 and 900 euros a month without overtime payments. Their contracts stated only twelve hours per week, giving rise therefore to a defrauding of Social Security. Some employees were also expected to make deliveries using their own vehicles and sometimes had to pay for their own fuel.
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