Recycled chicken source stands by his truth

2011-01-15 16:03

The man who confirmed that South Africans consume recycled chicken described the efforts of his former employers, Supreme Poultry, to silence him as “frivolous and vexatious”.

In court papers filed this week, Johan Matthee (48), former production manager at Supreme, asked the Bloemfontein High Court to award a punitive cost order against the company.

At the end of last year Matthee agreed to an interim gagging order forbidding him from making what Supreme then described as “untrue, misleading and defamatory” statements in the media.

In his court papers, Matthee now states in minute detail why it is true that Supreme reworks chicken, treats them with chlorine at times, injects them with brine and repackages them before stamping a new expiry date.

These earlier revelations which had been backed by Matthee, two other people and documents caused an uproar.

Supreme contended it suffered huge losses as a result of the publicity and threatened to sue Matthee for damages.

These alleged losses are now disputed by Matthee in his court papers. He refers to a statement made by Supreme chief executive Izaak Breitenbach to in which he states that Supreme’s sales increased by 8% in December.

Supreme alleged that it was the victim of Matthee because he was bitter after he was sacked for sexual harassment.
But Matthee says he is still involved in a dispute about his dismissal, which he claims was the result of a clash about ­production processes with the owner’s son.

The owner’s son is believed to have been appointed to Matthee’s former position.

In his affidavit, Matthee also elaborates on Supreme’s production practices such as hosing down chicken to thaw them quicker while the chickens are stored at room temperature before they are injected with brine of up to 55% of the chicken’s weight.

Everything he was quoted as saying in City Press was the truth, which was verified by Supreme’s own court papers, said Matthee. “(On enquiry by City Press,) I gave an honest explanation of the processes. I wouldn’t have given the journalist permission to quote me if I had intended to defame an industry giant. I can’t be blamed when the media found the truth worthy to be published in the public interest.”

Supreme now has the opportunity to respond to Matthee’s papers before the court makes a final order next month.

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