Top meat and food industry leaders met Wednesday [yesterday] with Norway’s Food Control Authority (SNT) to discuss a series of scandals in the meat business that has shaken consumer faith and created an outcry for new, tough legislation.

NorgesGruppen, the country’s largest foodservice conglomerate, has hogged unpalatable headlines lately after five of their Meny shops – high-end groceries specialising in meat – were found with stocks well past the sell-by date. One branch was expelled from the chain, an industry first, after they were caught by SNT inspectors making forcemeat from expired products.

The core of the scare has been a general lack of regard for laws governing the freezing of meat, including meat frozen, then thawed and sold as fresh, which both NorgesGruppen and the SNT believe pervades the industry.

Now the SNT promises to define clearer rules to allow smaller shops to freeze fresh meat in regulated fashion. The industry warns that a lack of options could force local shops to shun fresh products entirely.

The SNT has extremely limited punitive powers, and can just shut businesses down until standards are met, which in practice often takes less than a day to restore.

NorgesGruppen has a 34% share of Norway’s grocery market, owning chains Spar, Centra, Ultra, Meny, Kiwi Minipris, Joker, Naermat and EuroSpar, as well as a range of smaller shops, kiosks and eateries.