Early 80's Swedish meat in Poland!

When I first saw the headline I thought “My God, an ABBA revival concert!” and started checking the listings for Sala Kongresowa!


1980’s Swedish meat

However, it turns out that this is a far more sinister plot that should have everyone who’s eaten pierogi z mięsem in a Krakow bar mleczny heading for the toilet.

Almost 200 tonnes of 1980s Swedish canned meat has found its way into Polish schools, nursing homes and grocery stores.

The conserved meat was produced as early as the 1980s for long-term storage purposes during the Cold War and was not meant to find its way to any European Union member state for retail sale or human consumption. The Swedish Agricultural Ministry claims that the sales contract stipulates that the cans of beef and pork are meant for animal feed only. TVN24 reports that, over the last three years, hundreds of thousands of cans of the Swedish-produced meat have been sold in Poland and been turned into popular dishes such as pierogi (dumplings), stuffed cabbage, sausage, head cheese and more.

There are many things I might expect to have happened in Sweden during the cold war but the production of hundreds of thousands of tins of everlasting beef is not one of them. By the way, can anyone tell me what is “head cheese”, sounds delicious!

The Swedish government attempted to sell the meat in 1999. It was purchased by a Swedish distributor and, in 2007, a contract was signed with a Polish distributor registered in Krakow, southern Poland, to purchase 100,000 cans that amounted to 185 tonnes of ground meat.

I wonder how many pierogi and gołąbki it takes to use of 185 tonnes of dodgy mince? Can it all have been used up since 2007? Is it safe to venture into the restaurants of Krakow yet?

Pretty nasty little story and, sadly, entirely believable. It really does make you think again about what exactly it is you are eating in some of these places and whilst the roadside cafes and low cost eateries might be the obvious suspects I’m sure they are not the only ones taking advantage of lower food costs. Then again, maybe the Krakow distributor was just keeping it for their own use or shipping it back out to Belarus or somewhere with nice new labels on it. Perhaps that’s why there were so many customs agents on the road when I drove to Lithuania this week – on the hunt for 26 year old mince.

Not the only food related story to be found either. There’s the case of “Mass poisoning at fish processing plant” in northern Poland as well. My bet is they were cloning ‘Panga’, what the Polish call the Iridescent shark, a type of catfish almost as ugly and tasteless as our old friend the Carp. If ever there was a dodgy fish then Panga is it. I don’t think it actually comes from something that was swimming around with fins and things, my guess is it’s a kind of fungus grown on the inside of septic tanks. Hence the need to poison people when cleaning them out!

So many unanswered questions, so little time.

Anyway -enjoy your lunch!

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15 thoughts on “Early 80's Swedish meat in Poland!

  1. Radek says:

    Head Cheese – is that thing you get at the deli counter that is like a log of gelatine filled with bits of random meat… I never quite grasped the concept, but people seem to like it…

  2. Ania says:

    That topic attracted Korwin’s attention already. He argues, acceptably, that the meat cans are replaced by the Army every ten years, while still good. So, since it was preserved, no big deal.

    …and really, if corned beef grosses you out, don’t ever eat kiełbasa, or sausage either. One never knows what’s in it.

    Korwin’s blog gives an example of how the Swedish Ministed of Agriculture had on one occasion eaten a cheese left on Antarctica by Robert F. Scott – and there are summers there as well.

    The key is that there are no bacteria there, just like inside a can of meat.

  3. Scatts says:

    Korwin & I are obviously attracted by similar headlines!

    Bacteria or not, would you like to know you’re eating 26yr old meat?

    The guy must spend most of his life at family birthday parties & name days!

    ….czterech synów: Ryszard, Krzysztof, Kacper i Jacek; dwie córki: Zuzanna i Korynna; dwóch wnuków: Andrzej i Kuba; pięć wnuczek: Kasia, Natalka, Majka, Kamilka i Blanka.

  4. kuba says:

    I was in Japan in 1972 and we were eating ‘C’ rations from WWII. Meat was salty and lasted for 30 years. But we did not have anything else so it was good. C rations were used by the military now called MREs

  5. guest says:

    meat is just proteine, not a living animal. And as long as there is no bacteria or things like that “proteine” stays (eatable) “proteine”…

  6. Scatts says:


    Biochemistry. any of numerous, highly varied organic molecules constituting a large portion of the mass of every life form and necessary in the diet of all animals and other nonphotosynthesizing organisms, composed of 20 or more amino acids linked in a genetically controlled linear sequence into one or more long polypeptide chains, the final shape and other properties of each protein being determined by the side chains of the amino acids and their chemical attachments: proteins include such specialized forms as collagen for supportive tissue, hemoglobin for transport, antibodies for immune defense, and enzymes for metabolism.

    Commonly found in 26yr old tins of Swedish meat.

  7. Scatts says:

    Yuk – but even I would eat it if that’s all there was available. What on earth were you doing for you to only have WWII food available?

  8. kuba says:

    Scatts, I was installing a remote communications site on a southern Island in the Japan chain. We were miles from anywhere and had nothing else. The site was secure and no one else was allowed on it.

  9. Ania says:

    …otherwise the staff might be inclined to prefer fresh visitor over C rations ;)

  10. Scatts says:

    Sounds like fun, kuba!

  11. Steven says:

    I think I had some of that Swedish meat in England also. Can,t be certain though……It was deep fried in a pot of lard and served with beer and chips. mmmmmmmm yummy

  12. kika says:

    Scatts – let me point out a few things :
    1. How can they say that this meat was meant to be fed to animals?
    what animals? cows, lambs, pigs are mostly vegeterain, we all remember what happened when the British farmers started to feed the cattle with meat…crazy cow desease etc..So this argument is completely made up.
    2. 26 years old meat , so what? In America that’s exactly what McDonald’s got in their restaurants. They buy and use old army supplies which need to be renewed every 20-25 years or so… No big deal – I bet you’ve had McDuck a few times in your life yourself…
    3. As long as it is canned and sealed , no problem – it’s edible allright.
    4. I’ve recently bought Polish Pyzy z Miesem here in the UK – and
    although they might have been Swedish origin, I don’t care – they were the best I’ve ever had and we were and are perfectly OK.
    So don’t worry and Bon Apetit!

  13. Ewa says:

    Dogs and cats are carnivores and most meat designated for human consumption goes into pet food (after they put it into supermarket ready meals, that is). Pigs eat are omnivores but somehow I can’t see farmers opening tins of food for them.

  14. peter carr says:

    Some girls love head cheese…….

  15. Basia z Szwecji says:

    Just adding a late comment. The meat had turned rancid acording to Swedish media. Even if there was no bacteria, the meat had started to rotten, and could very well be poisonus.

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