Meat from a Polish abattoir at the centre of a scandal over slaughtering sick cows has been sold to nine other EU countries, Euronews has learned.
Secret filming by broadcaster TVN revealed the unwell animals being killed at a slaughterhouse situated 112km east of Warsaw.
Meat from the abattoir went to Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Sweden.
“The priority today is to trace and withdraw from the market all the products originated from this slaughterhouse,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU commissioner responsible for food safety said in a statement.
“I call on the member states affected to take swift action.
“At the same time, I urge the Polish authorities to finalise as a matter of urgency their investigations, taking all the necessary measures to ensure the respect of the EU legislation including effective, rapid and dissuasive penalties against the perpetrators of such a criminal behaviour that could pose risk to public health and portrays an unacceptable treatment of animals.”
Polish police are investigating after the secret footage appeared to show sick cows dragged into the slaughterhouse and sold with little or no veterinary inspection.
Authorities reacted to the scandal by imposing controls in Polish abattoirs.
“This is the problem of just one company. It is unpleasant, and it is worth stigmatising.
"Fortunately, it is a small slaughterhouse and the other 99.9% of meat processing plants are good,” said Janusz Rodziewicz, head of meats lobby SRiWRP.
But Patryk Szczepaniak, the reporter who uncovered the scandal, said it was a nationwide problem.
Poland produces about 560,000 tonnes of beef a year, with 85% exported to countries including Britain, Spain, Italy and Germany.