( dpa )- Prosecutors were Monday probing allegations by Romanian butchers employed at a German meat plant that tons of foul-smelling pigs' heads were regularly processed into sausage meat.
ARD public television made the allegations public just before airing a programme saying the bad meat had been diluted with good meat and sold to sausage-making factories in Russia, Romania and Germany itself.
"There was pus in it. It stank terribly," one of the butchers was quoted by ARD as saying. "I couldn't stand next to it and go on working. I had to vomit."
A prosecutions spokeswoman in Oldenburg, northern Germany, at the centre of a region where animals are fattened indoors in factory- style farms, said an inquiry was underway into three executives.
"At the moment, we consider these allegations to be credible," she said. "They were sufficient to prompt us to raid the abbatoir and continue the inquiry." No bad meat was found during the raid, but samples were being tested.
Germany has had a series of scares involving bad meat, mostly involving meat that smells old or is past its sell-by date. There have been no reports of anyone becoming ill from it.
However some allegations have turned out to be false and the media have become careful about reporting the claims, which can destroy a business reliant on its good name.
The latest allegations, against a plant in the town of Lohne , said the Romanian butchers had had to pick meat off 4 tons of heads every week since last March until their jobs ended early this month.
They have a separate legal dispute underway with the employer. Prosecutors said the five had been interviewed.
The German government has proposed increasing fines for traders selling any sort of condemned meat.
It has been suggested that offcuts , which are not supposed to be used for human consumption, should be dyed purple or another colour so that they are not illegally mixed with legal meat.