The practice of smuggling sick cows into the meat chain is feared to be more widespread in Poland than previously believed, according to the investigative reporter who captured footage of ill cows being dragged to slaughter.

After Patryk Szczepaniak’s undercover footage aired, the EU’s rapid alert system for food and feed was triggered, and it has since been confirmed that meat from this particular abattoir was exported to EU countries including Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia and Sweden.

He infiltrated the slaughterhouse late last year and worked there undercover for almost three weeks. He captured footage showing cows so sick that they were unable to stand up being dragged out of trucks and into the slaughterhouse using a winch, with ropes tied around their horns or legs.

On top of that, workers at the slaughterhouse were removing evidence from the carcasses, such as pressure sores and tumors that indicate the cows were sick and had been lying on their sides for days on end.

Szczepaniak has challenged claims by the Polish veterinary authorities that the scandal was an isolated incident, citing evidence of a much wider black market in meat from sick cows operating across Poland and that since the programme was shown on Polish television he had received dozens of messages from around Poland from people claiming that similar practices were occurring in other parts of the country.

This is not the first Polish slaughterhouse to be accused of involvement in the processing of sick cows. In December, the owner of a slaughterhouse near Łódź in central Poland was given a prison sentence for running a similar operation.

So what will authorities do about it?

The Polish authorities have announced that CCTV will be installed in slaughterhouses and more health inspectors will be employed to improve the monitoring of slaughterhouse practices, as part of an initiative estimated to cost around 120 million zloty – about £25m. Health experts sent by the European Commission have arrived in Poland to monitor Warsaw’s response to the crisis.

What should we do about it?

The point is that are we to believe that its only Poland who is allowing sick cows to enter food chains? It would be very naive to think so. Let’s be real. It will never end. Sometimes we wonder why people get sick, why cancer and tumors are such commonplace. We for one believe a major reason is because of the food we eat. With the majority of the world eating meat every single day its a scary thought.

It’s not easy to convert being a vegan but maybe its something more of us should start thinking about for our families in 2019. For our children’s sake!

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