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Brazil finds 'food not fit for consumption' at hotels hosting World Cup teams

By Rafael Romo, CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor
May 29, 2014 -- Updated 1506 GMT (2306 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Surprise inspections turn up food that was past consumption dates
  • Expired food was confiscated at two hotels where World Cup teams are to stay
  • One hotel says the food had expired the day before the inspection, and was not served
  • The other hotel says it follows quality control standards, and is investigating

(CNN) -- Brazilian authorities have confiscated food "not fit for consumption" from two hotels that will host the English and Italian national teams during the upcoming World Cup competition in Brazil.

According to Procon, the Brazilian consumer protection agency, inspectors found food past its consumption date at the Portobello Hotel in the city of Mangaratiba, a suburb just west of Rio de Janeiro. The Italian national team is expected to stay at the Portobello.

In a surprise inspection Monday, Procon said, inspectors found 25 kilograms (about 55 pounds) of expired pasta, shrimp, salmon and margarine. At Portobello, inspectors also seized 24 kilograms (about 53 pounds) of steak, sauces, beef heart, cheese, sugar and fish without expiration labels.

Fabio Domingos, head of Procon in Rio de Janeiro state, told Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency, that he's very concerned about the number of establishments that have violated sanitation rules.

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"It is unacceptable for a hotel like Portobello to store expired food. It's one of the two largest hotels in Rio state that will be hosting international teams and it's storing expired shrimp, meat and pasta. All of the expired food has been disposed of by our agents," Domingos said.

In a statement, Juliana Castanheira, a Portobello Hotel press representative, said executives there "are taking measures to fully comply with the law."

"This was an exception to our practices," Castanheira said. "Since our team has had to work hard to meet high demand from the public, there was a failure in the disposal of food which expired the day before the visit by the inspection agency. However, no expired or unsafe food was served to our customers."

Last week, in another surprise inspection, Procon inspectors found food past consumption quality at the Royal Tulip Hotel in the São Conrado neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. That hotel is expected to host the English national team during the World Cup. Inspectors there found 2.36 kilograms (about 5 pounds) of expired lard, Parma ham and salmon.

The hotel released a statement to CNN saying, "Rio de Janeiro's Royal Tulip would like to make it clear that it follows all external and internal standards of quality control of its food and drinks and is investigating this incident."

All establishments with violations have 15 days to explain to contest the charges. Otherwise, they face a fine.

As part of stepped-up effort to improve food safety, hotel and tourist services during the World Cup, Brazilian authorities launched Operation Shirt 10, named for the jersey number worn by iconic Brazilian star Pelé, whos real name is Edson Arantes do Nascimento.

Out of 13 establishments that have been inspected so far, eight have been cited and fined for expired food and other violations.

The establishments where inspectors found sanitation and other violations include restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries, stores and hotels.

But a Procon statement said the Caesar Park Hotel, where the Dutch national team will stay, passed inspection without a problem.

Brazil will host the World Cup from June 12 to July 13, with its team among 32 squads from around the world competing for the championship. Games in the 2014 World Cup will be played in twelve Brazilian cities: Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Sao Paulo.

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