Deadly Bacteria Spark Panic About Macedonia's Meat

Photo by: Ralf Roletschek

Sales of meat in Macedonia have dropped sharply since reports broke two weeks ago that infected meat had led to four people dying from listeriosis.

“We are selling half of what we were selling 15 days ago. If this continues, it will be the end of us, no matter that we use only the finest meat and the highest quality controls,” said Slave Domanovski, a worker in Promes, which runs a chain of butchers.

Fear of meat products increased after last week when Macedonia's food safety inspectorate said smoked pork produced by the manufacturer Ekstra was the cause of the fatalities.

“There is no cause for alarm as we are continuing to conduct thorough checkups,” the inspectorate told Balkan Insight.

Ekstra immediately withdrew several of its products while continuing to insist that its products could not be contaminated with deadly bacteria.

“It is not possible for an untreated product to exit from our company. All of our products, including pork, are baked from 73 to 79 degrees Celsius, which guarantees destruction of listeria and other bacteria,” Ekstra wrote.

Despite the calls for calm, consumers and sellers told Balkan Insight that sales of meat were plummeting.

“I avoid purchasing meat because the affair has really scared me. Better safe then sorry,” Rodna Miljkovic, from Skopje, said, while she was out shopping.

“That [infected] meat should not have hit the shelves in the first place. Now who am I to trust?" asked Lepa Zdravevska, another shopper in Skopje.

“We are suffering dearly from the entire affair. The domestic meat industry was already taking heavy losses from cheap imported meat that flooded the country and now this is an additional blow,” Darko Starkovski from...

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