M.V.Wool seeking relief from courts following factory closure injunction

M.V.Wool products at a supermarket in Estonia.
M.V.Wool products at a supermarket in Estonia. Source: ERR

Fish processing company M.V.Wool has applied to the courts for preliminary relief for an injunction which closed its two factories early this week.

The Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) ordered the facilities, in Harku and Vihterpalu, to close on Monday, with staff taking forced leave starting Tuesday, following a reappearance of a strain of Listera bacteria linked with two deaths in Estonia and several more Europe-wide. The VTA also ordered the destruction of M.V.Wool's entire stock.

According to daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), M.V.Wool applied for preliminary relief from the injunction, though the company has not disclosed whether the suit covers the entire injunction, or relates to part of the destruction of stock arising from the forced closure.

M.V.Wool has inventory worth a reported €2 million, and says that it fails to comprehend why it has to destroy stock which it says does not contain Listeria.

The VTA says it will wait for a court decision before commenting on the subject.

On March 8 this year, the VTA received information from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announcing outbreaks of Listeria monocytogenes in five EU Member States. This followed an concern expressed by Denmark's veterinary and food board over M.V.Wool products.

The results of the analysis linked the outbreaks to the products from M.V.Wool AS. As a result, on March 13, the VTA issued precautionary measures for further assessment of the safety of the output. 

On June 4, EFSA and ECDC released a risk assessment of the international outbreak. The cases of illness and death identified in the EFCA-ECDC report relate to industry and activities from M.V.Wool and not to the raw materials used by the company.

M.V.Wool had since been required to provided the VTA with regular samples to monitor the existence of Listeria bacteria.

The company closed its Harku plant in mid-October for a full sterilization, but further traces were found in mid-November. The company claimed that the latest Listeria had arisen from raw fish imported from Finland.

At least one supermarket, Maxima, stopped selling M.V.Wool products after the initial Listeria reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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