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One-third of food sold in Hungary illegal, expiry dates forged

One-third of the food sold in Hungary is probably illegal, the chairman of the country's association of food processors said, citing forged expiry dates on items and importers who fail to pay taxes on products.

“It is revolting and unacceptable,'' Attila Borodi said in a telephone interview today. “I truly hope that the police investigation in the cases it's ongoing will put an end to it all.” Representatives of Hungary's Agriculture Ministry are meeting today with executives of hypermarkets operating in the country to ensure Hungary won't become “Europe's kitchen-waste depository,” the newspaper Népszabadság reported. Hungary's public health authority earlier this month confiscated more than 100 tons of expired food items, Napi Gazdaság reported December 8, citing László Popovits, the authority's Pest county deputy director. About 400 types of food including eggs, granola bars and cured meats were found at warehouses outside Budapest, which supplied 1,200 retailers. An investigation into Austrian-owned M.E.G.A. Trade Group, which imported the products into Hungary, is ongoing at the national investigation office. “All we can say at this stage is that the investigation is under way and we currently have two suspects, both foreign nationals,” Emese Horváczy, a spokeswoman for the national office said by telephone today. Hungary, a country of 10 million people, which joined the European Union in May 2004, installed an obligatory product- tracking system from the beginning of this year. “Sadly, it only works on paper, but not in practice,” Borodi said. (Bloomberg)