Illegal meat trade sparks health fears

SWITZERLAND - Customs officers say high meat prices in Switzerland are fuelling a lucrative cross-border smuggling trade which poses a danger to public health.

The authorities, who have intercepted five metric tons of smuggled meat in the past 18 months, say the racket is increasingly being run by organised gangs.

Since the introduction of import quotas a decade ago, the Federal Customs Office says it has seen an upsurge in the amount of meat smuggled into Switzerland from neighbouring countries, where prices are up to 50 per cent cheaper.

And it is not simply a question of a few sausages slipped under the front seat. Smuggling operations are often professionally run and involve shipments worth tens of thousands of francs.

According to Serge Gumy, head of criminal investigations at the Federal Customs Office, a combination of high meat prices, stiff customs duty, increased traffic and relaxing of border checks have created "a big risk of fraud" in Switzerland.

"There is an enormous market here for smuggled meat, and it's principally down to the price difference between Switzerland and abroad," he told swissinfo. A kilo of beef filet costs around SFr70 ($57) in Switzerland.

Source: NZZ Online
calendar icon 24 May 2005
clock icon 1 minute read
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