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Information leaks on firms behind sell-by date fraud could hurt investigation

Police have called on the Agriculture Ministry to halt all outgoing information on the M.E.G.A. Trade business group, which has been involved in the fraudulent repackaging of well over 100 tonnes of foodstuffs to alter the sell-by dates, saying leaks could corrupt its investigation, a senior farm ministry official said on Sunday.

Fülöp Benedek, a ministry state secretary said police had asked them to refrain from offering further public information. However, Fulop noted that this was the third time this year that the M.E.G.A. Trade group has been involved in questionable practices involving its food products. The first time was this past March, when inspectors discovered a significant amount of "objectionable goods" in Heves County, north - east Hungary.

The second time was in May, when a similar discovery was made while monitoring a cold store in Budapest. The third was this past week and involved some four-six warehouses containing over 100 tons of repackaged foods. Fülöp underlined that the ministry was continuing its own investigation of the companies. Meanwhile, according to ministry information, most chains of grocery retailers had purchased goods from the M.E.G.A. group between October 1 and November 30.

A list of products sold to the retail outlets contains 1,500 items from the M.E.G.A. group, many of which are believed not to have been fraudulently repackaged. Nevertheless, András Dékány, media liaison for the Agriculture Ministry suggested that all consumers who have doubts about any product could contact the store where they bought it. (