Smuggled meat on menu in Norway

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The Independent Online

Norway'shigh meat prices have created a burgeoning black market economy, with organised gangs sneaking mini-vans full of pork chops and chicken wings from neighbouring Sweden.

Customs authorities have seized 34 tonnes of illegally imported meat so far this year - three times the amount confiscated during the same period a year ago. Much of this meat passes into Norway from Sweden through the south-eastern border town of Svinesund.

Experts believe that more than 2,000 tonnes of meat will enter the country under the radar this year and Norwegian authorities are seriously concerned about the health and hygiene risks that poses.

"We often find meat being transported in cars with no cooling mechanisms, in 30-degree heat. This food then carries a very high risk of food poisoning, and we don't know where it has come from," Kristina Landsverk, of the Norwegian Food Standards Agency, said. "Two years ago, we found chicken that had been smuggled in from Thailand at the height of the bird-flu crisis. That was very worrying indeed," she added.

Meat in Norway costs 82 per cent more than the European average. Ms Landsverk said: "We are not part of the EU, and our agricultural industry produces 99 per cent of our meat. It is costly to produce, so the government has to charge high taxes."