Company ‘sold out-of-date food for 5 years’
25 July 2005
BRUSSELS — Some 100 tons of out-of-date food products, some of them dating back to 1999, have been seized in a surprise raid at the distribution firm Sobelco in Jumet.
Authorities suspect that over date food has been sold on the Belgium market for up to five years with forged use-by dates.
The raid by customs and excise officers was carried out on 14 July, but only made public on Monday, newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’ reported.
Inspectors found 279 pallets of over date food in a shed 2,000sq m in size.
It is alleged the food products were machine-stamped with a new use-by-date and returned to the domestic retail market.
Raids were also carried out at two other locations where machinery that could change use-by-dates and barcodes were seized.
Inspectors have also seized Sobelco accounts. The company supplies both small and late-night shops and large distribution firms.
Some of the over date food dated back to 1999 and included pasta, sauces, canned vegetables, biscuits and alcoholic drinks.
About 90 percent of the food discovered — about 100 tons — was over its use-by-date. All of the food products originated in Italy.
Two workers have reportedly confessed to changing use-by dates since 2000, the year in which they had access to the necessary machinery.
Company owner Ferdinando Leone, of Marcinelle, and his family are believed to be in Italy, where he had a firm with the same name. An international warrant may be issued for Leone’s arrest.
Sobelco was established in 1982 and was good for a turnover of EUR 2.3 million in 2004.
The Belgian Food agency will now analyse the seized food products and the Charleroi public prosecutor is urging Sobelco customers to come forward to help trace where the food came from and where it went.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news