Polish food inspectors have stopped meat production at Viola plant following claims that it was adding rotten meat to its products.
The allegations were made in a TV programme that included secretly filmed footage from the Viola plant in the northern village of Lniano.
It purports to show meat returned by shops being re-used to make sausages and ham.
Viola – which exports to several EU countries – denies the allegations.
The claims come amid a widening horsemeat scandal in the EU.
Since the first horsemeat was discovered in frozen meals and burgers in the UK and Ireland in January, traces have been found in meat products across Europe.
Polish food inspectors have stopped meat production at Viola plant following claims that it was adding rotten meat to its products
In the programme on TVN24 channel, an undercover journalist is shown touring the plant, near the city of Bydgoszcz, and speaking with workers under the guise of applying for a job.
The footage then shows employees in storage rooms taking meat that had been returned from shops.
At one point, one worker holds up a sausage covered in green mould, saying it would be cleaned, dried and re-used.
Another worker says tonnes of old meat were recycled instead of being thrown away.
TVN24 also quotes a letter signed by the plant’s management, which reads: “There are no grounds for the allegations.”
Viola says it exports to the UK, Ireland, Germany and Lithuania.
This latest incident comes just over a week after inspectors found horse DNA in meat labeled as beef in three Polish meat-processing plants.
A study of half a million people across Europe suggests that sausages, ham, bacon and other processed meats appear to increase the risk of dying young.
The study concluded diets high in processed meats were linked to cardiovascular disease, cancer and early deaths.
The researchers, writing in the journal BMC Medicine, said salt and chemicals used to preserve the meat may damage health.
The British Heart Foundation suggested opting for leaner cuts of meat.
The study followed people from 10 European countries for nearly 13 years on average.
It showed people who ate a lot of processed meat were also more likely to smoke, be obese and have other behaviors known to damage health.
However, the researchers said even after those risk factors were accounted for, processed meat still damaged health.
One in every 17 people followed in the study died. However, those eating more than 160 g of processed meat a day – roughly two sausages and a slice of bacon – were 44% more likely to die over a typical follow-up time of 12.7 years than those eating about 20 g.
In total, nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.
Prof. Sabine Rohrmann, from the University of Zurich, said: “High meat consumption, especially processed meat, is associated with a less healthy lifestyle.
“But after adjusting for smoking, obesity and other confounders we think there is a risk of eating processed meat.
“Stopping smoking is more important than cutting meat, but I would recommend people reduce their meat intake.”
A study of half a million people across Europe suggests that sausages, ham, bacon and other processed meats appear to increase the risk of dying young
Sabine Rohrmann said if everyone in the study consumed no more than 20 g of processed meat a day then 3% of the premature deaths could have been prevented.
However a little bit of meat, even processed meat, had health benefits in the study.
Ursula Arens from the British Dietetic Association said that putting fresh meat through a mincer did not make it processed meat.
“Something has been done to it to extend its shelf life, or to change its taste, or to make it more palatable in some way… and this could be a traditional process like curing or salting.”
She said even good quality ham or sausages were still classed as processed meat, while homemade burgers using fresh meat were not.
“For most people there’s no need to cut back on fresh, red meat. For people who have very high intake of red meat – eat lots of red meat every day – there is the recommendation that they should moderate their intake,” she added.
Ursula Arens also confirmed that the study’s finding that processed meat was linked to heart disease was new.
Dr. Rachel Thompson, from the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “This research adds to the body of scientific evidence highlighting the health risks of eating processed meat.
“Our research, published in 2007 and subsequently confirmed in 2011, shows strong evidence that eating processed meat, such as bacon, ham, hot dogs, salami and some sausages, increases the risk of getting bowel cancer.”
The organization said there would be 4,000 fewer cases of bowel cancer if people had less than 10 g a day.
“This is why World Cancer Research Fund recommends people avoid processed meat,” said Dr. Rachel Thompson.
Russian officials say horsemeat has been detected in sausages advertised as pork and imported from Austria.
The Russian agriculture watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said the sausages contained both horse and poultry DNA.
A spokesman said the company that supplied the meat had been struck off a list of approved suppliers.
Horsemeat was first found in meals and burgers in the UK and Ireland last month, and traces have since been found in meat products across Europe.
“Tests on a shipment of Frankfurter sausages found the DNA of horses, chicken, cattle and soya,” Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement.
Earlier, Rosselkhoznadzor spokesman Alexei Alexeyenko told AFP news agency that the shipment of more than 20 tonnes of sausages had been imported from the Austrian city of Linz. He did not name the supplier.
Russian officials say horsemeat has been detected in sausages advertised as pork and imported from Austria
Horsemeat is considered a traditional delicacy in Russia and is available in many restaurants and stores.
Alexei Alexeyenko said the problem with the contaminated meat was that it was not clear what it was made of and that old or ill animals could have been used.
The meat will either be destroyed or returned to the supplier, he added.
Russian media originally reported the sausages being documented as 100% beef, but later reports said they were labelled as having 80% pork as well as other non-meat ingredients.
At least a dozen countries are involved in the horsemeat affair, which implicates some of the biggest meat processors and food producers.
On Monday, Swedish company Ikea withdrew meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden.
EU agricultural officials are looking at ways of tightening up procedures and ensuring greater traceability in the wake of the scandal.
The Kazakh Olympic team is hoping to boost its chances of sporting success at London 2012 with horsemeat sausages.
Sports officials in Kazakhstan say that the traditional dish may help the athletes’ performance.
But it is unclear whether the sausages will be allowed into the UK, because of strict import controls on meat.
Kazakhstan is fielding 114 athletes at the London games, which begin in two weeks.
The Kazakh Olympic team is hoping to boost its chances of sporting success at London 2012 with horsemeat sausages
Horsemeat is an indispensable part of the traditional Kazakh diet, and a dried horsemeat sausage known as “kazy” is particularly cherished.
The Kazakh team is made up mainly of boxers, wrestlers and weightlifters, all sports associated with a protein-rich diet.
“We’ll bring horse meat and caviar for each team,” sports official Elsiyar Kanagatov said, adding that athletes could achieve “outstanding results” if fed properly.
Oil-rich Kazakhstan is fiercely ambitious and there is also the promise of hard cash should athletes succeed – $200,000 for a gold medal, $150,000 for silver and $75,000 for bronze, our correspondent says.
The team has won 39 medals including nine gold since its debut at the Olympics in 1996.