For the Azaitar brothers, Moroccans are just beggars, good at eating rotten meat. Poor people without dignity who can be played with by serving them products that are unfit for consumption. Drum rolls, a little marketing, interpersonal skills, glitter and a few highly paid influencers and now we think we can make them swallow anything, without anyone flinching.
It was without counting on the inflexibility of ONSSA, which no hypertrophied torso staggered. In any case, this is what emerges from a seizure of 6.7 tonnes of white meat, presented as being chicken produced in Romania.
Intended for fast food restaurants run by the family of MMA veterans, Azaitar, this meat was expired and its traceability questionable. ONSSA noted this fraud on Wednesday, December 28, which is eminently detrimental to the health of customers of German-Moroccan fast food restaurants.
One discovery led to another, an extensive inventory carried out on Friday 30 December of the goods stored in refrigerated premises in Salé, made it possible to identify a multitude of other offenses on around 10 other tonnes of white meat: expiry date exceeded, non-existence of dates on certain batches, non-compliance with storage standards or storage temperatures. This is a real food scandal that has just been brought to light.
The alert had been launched on social networks
It’s an illustrated audio that aroused our curiosity. It spread like wildfire on social media on Thursday and was shared thousands of times on Whatsapp. We can hear a young woman warning those who listen to her: “there are establishments in Tangier and Salé whose owners are said to be brothers who do boxing, who sell hamburgers with weird meat and a suspicious taste.” And the young woman added that, according to one of her acquaintances in Tangier, “the meat comes from abroad and that it enters the national territory without being controlled”.
Contacted by MoroccoLatestNews, a source (who wished to remain anonymous) within the public body responsible for food safety, confirmed this information and delivered the sickening details of this affair which is already called the Moroccan “ChickenGate”.
6.7 tonnes of expired chicken meat made in Romania
It all started on Wednesday, December 28 with a routine check of a warehouse in Salé, called “Zoufi Viande” after its owner. ONSSA agents, local authorities and police services discovered 6.7 tonnes of frozen white meat presented as chicken.
This meat bears the name “Doner Kebab” and trade names such as “Nova” or even “Ercan” can be read on the labels of this merchandise, the inspectors of which note that the validity date has expired and that it is imported from Romania. The labeling indicates, in fact, a manufacturing date of June 26, 2022 and an expiry date of December 26, 2022, i.e. two days before the control carried out by ONSSA.
According to our source at ONSSA, the documents presented by the owner of the warehouse give no indication of the origin of the chicken meat. We had to look at the labeling to find out a little more about its traceability and to see that it was made in Romania, a country whose health certificates Morocco does not recognize.
Result: this meat does not have a certificate that complies with national standards. Another violation was noted that day in the storage conditions of 600 kg of chicken nuggets and thighs: they were kept at a temperature of -5 degrees instead of the -18 required for good preservation of this category of products.
New seizure of 10 tons by the Hygiene Commission
Continuing the investigations initiated by ONSSA, the Hygiene Commission decided to make a precise inventory of the goods stored in the premises of “Zoufi Viande” yesterday, Friday 30 December. It identifies, in addition to the 6.7 tons seized on the 28th, more than 9.3 tons of white meat, 5 of which are expired or about to see their consumption date exceeded. Worse still: at least 150 kilos bear no date!
Finally, more than 500 kilos of goods from another batch are stored without any standard being respected in terms of temperature.
According to our source at ONSSA, nearly 10 tonnes of white meat should be destroyed today, as were the first 6.7 tonnes seized by the office last Thursday.
The Azaitars knew the expiration date had passed.
Could the Azaitair brothers have been unaware that their merchandise was expired?
The answer is clearly no since the 6.7 tonnes of chicken seized by ONSSA had been stored since their importation on August 12, in another warehouse in Casablanca. They were moved to Salé on the instructions of the siblings to the premises of “Zoufi Viande” on Tuesday December 27, i.e. after their expiry date.
The Azaitars knew and had every intention of serving this expired meat with opaque traceability to customers of their fast food restaurants. No state of mind, not the slightest case of conscience serving their dangerous greed to a clientele confident enough to think they are healthy and pure.
Did you say Halal?
This meat is presented as Halal but all doubts are allowed, given the vagueness maintained on the origin of the product and its composition. The label indicates 90% chicken and for the remaining 10, potato starch, garlic, tomato paste and other preservatives such as tripolyphosphate which is a chemical product that helps give a fresh appearance to the meat and helps to slow down its deterioration. Assuming that the chicken is really Halal, are the other ingredients too?
Once again, nothing is less certain and the repeated food scandals in recent years in Europe have reinforced our fears.
Steaks with E.Coli bacteria, mad cow disease, chickens with dioxins, chocolate pies with fecal matter, infant milk contaminated with salmonella, ice cream with ethylene oxide (carcinogenic pesticide), lasagna with horse meat or even eggs to Fipronil, are so many food scandals, unworthy of humans, which have affected the old continent over the past 25 years.
The largest and most spectacular of them is undoubtedly that of the 750 tons of Romanian horse that was passed off as French beef. A fraud which was revealed in 2013 and which had affected no less than 13 countries.
Having tainted Romania, this falsification can only be recalled today to our good memories to understand why Morocco does not recognize the health certificates of this European country.
Rigor of ONSSA and the Hygiene Commission
Faced with the means of pressure that the Azaitar brothers invariably use to make their recalcitrant interlocutors bend and get what they want, the National Food Safety Office and the Hygiene Commission have not flinched.
Is this a feat on the part of ONSSA controllers and hygiene agents?
Certainly not, but we can only bow to the resistance they have shown, when others bow down to the Azaitar siblings.
The Azaitar will never have enough
Here is a “Chickengate” which brings us back, once again, to the criminal past of the siblings who apparently have not finished with swindling, fraud and deceit.
This is a case that belies all the honeyed and smooth talk of Abu, Omar, Ottman and Khalid Azaitar on righteousness and divine teachings for good “Halal” practices.
Here is a fraud which comes to nullify the speech of a minority of bi-nationals who claim to be creators of wealth in their country of origin whereas they import goods often questionable instead of making work the premises whose origin and quality of products are guaranteed.
When it comes to chicken, for example, there are 9,000 licensed poultry farms in Morocco, with a production capacity of 12 million chicks per week.
This is a story that shows that the love that the Azaitars have for Morocco has a limit: what it can bring them. Even if it means compromising the health of some or trampling on others, one and the same question: how much?
Will the Azaitar brothers answer for their actions in court?
We journalists would have liked not to have to return to the misbehavior of the “Ferrari-like gangsters”, as the German media had dubbed them, but the affair is of such seriousness that it cannot be covered up. or ignored. The smallest fast-food, which would have imported nearly 17 tons of suspicious meat would have made the headlines because in Morocco, which has adopted very rigorous legislation to fight against products unfit for human or animal consumption, we do not trifle with the health of Moroccans.
The thousands of small traders who have their damaged goods seized, especially during Ramadan when controls are tightened, learn this every day to their cost.
The smallest bouiboui implicated in the sale of products whose hygiene standards would not be respected, would have been closed on the spot and put under seal, pending the end of the investigations.
We have not been able to find out, despite several reminders to the justice and agriculture departments, whether this large-scale fraud puts the owners of the Royal Burger restaurants in Tangier and Salé in a position to answer for their actions in court.
One thing is certain: the overflowing ambition of the siblings will make them again and again circumvent the rules and the laws.
Lacking a true and honorable career in combat sports, they greedily pursue their quest for material wealth and power.
Oscar Wilde would have many lessons to give them on their sporting bankruptcy, in particular. For the Irish writer “ambition is the last refuge of failure.” The chaotic journey and mad voracity of the Azaitars prove him right.