Castel Viandes is a company based in Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique), north of Nantes.
The group and three executives are being prosecuted for deceiving the quality of goods, marketing products harmful to health and obstructing health checks.
The lawyer for Castel and its CEO refutes the accusations and announces that he will plead for release.
It is a highly anticipated trial given the length of the investigation and the resonance of the food scandal that broke out in 2013. The slaughtering and cutting company Castel Viandes, specializing in beef, is appearing this Thursday before the Nantes criminal court for "deception on the quality of goods", "marketing of products of animal origin detrimental to health" and "obstructing" health checks.
The family business, located in Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique), between Nantes and Rennes, is suspected of having voluntarily resold presumed spoiled meat between 2010 and the end of 2013. It would have, in particular, resorted to the illegal practice of “reballe” which contested to put back on sale unsold lots beyond the expiry dates.
She would also have falsified the results of bacteriological analyzes and traceability documents.
The customers potentially deceived by Castel are well known: Auchan, Système U, Flunch, Mc Donald's, Marie, Fleury-Michon, Lustucru... The lawyer for Castel and its CEO Joseph Viol disputes all the accusations and announces that he plead for release.
Flunch and McDonald's
The case began in 2013 after the revelations to the gendarmes of Pierre Hinard, a former executive of Castel Meats, dismissed at the end of 2008 after having alerted the veterinary inspection of the existence of practices which he considers to be fraudulent.
The state services had not then initiated proceedings against Castel.
The irregularities identified by the investigators relate to the years 2010 to 2013.
“Mr. Hinard was fired in 2008. If he had really known that consumers were in danger, why would he have waited so long to speak out, at the risk of letting people get sick?
He uses the general interest to defend a personal interest, ”considers Me Benoît Chabert, lawyer for Castel Viandes.
The lawyer of another leader, Me Louis-Georges Barret, denounces the “confabulations” of an “individual who said he was a whistleblower but simply wanted revenge for his dismissal”.
Only two clients of Castel, Flunch and Mc Donald's (via its supplier McKey), filed civil suits at trial.
What arouse the astonishment of the UFC Que Choisir, also a civil party.
“It is all the more surprising not to see the other companies there as the deceptions of which they were the victims were potentially serious consequences.
Deliveries of fresh meat contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria or Escherichia coli put them at reputational risk.
Perhaps they did not want to see their names associated with a new fraud in the meat industry, ”wonders the consumer association.
Help to modernize
With approximately 300 jobs, the Castel Viandes company remains one of the main slaughterhouses in France.
At the end of December, it benefited from state support of around 2 million euros to modernize as part of the Recovery Plan.
In 2013, a demonstration of employees and local elected officials was organized to support the company then in the midst of a media storm.
“This trial shows how a company can free itself from health rules, believes UFC Que Choisir.
It also highlights the obvious failure of the self-checking system, which is based on the sole decision of companies to send the administration the results of analyzes showing contamination.
In this story, all the links save on control costs, including the public authorities.
But it is the consumers who foot the bill.
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Pays de la Loire