Food Law News - UK - 2008

FSA News Item, 25 June 2008

MEAT HYGIENE - Northern Ireland coldstore conviction upheld

The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSANI) has welcomed today's decision at the County Court division of Fermanagh to uphold the conviction of a meat coldstore in County Fermanagh for offences under food hygiene legislation. The company has been fined a total of £6,500 for breaches of these regulations.

Eurofreeze (Ireland) Ltd pleaded guilty after launching an appeal against a previous conviction at the Magistrates Court earlier this year for these offences.

The company was prosecuted by FSANI for offences under the hygiene regulations that applied to the licensed meat coldstore. These included use of the premises for a purpose for which it was not licensed and breaches of health marking requirements as laid down by EC and national law.

FSANI Deputy Director Gerry McCurdy said: 'We are very pleased with the outcome of today's hearing. The Agency is determined to protect the public's interests in relation to food at all costs and this result demonstrates that we will pursue food businesses where unlawful activity is detected. The conclusion of this case represents the hard work carried out by staff from the Agency, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and district councils.

'This extensive multi-agency investigation has required significant resources including the gathering and review of considerable amounts of evidence and we thank our colleagues in DARD, the Meat Hygiene Service, District Council Environmental Health Officers, and the Public Prosecution Service for their efforts in bringing about today's successful outcome.'

The investigation began in November 2005 when DARD officers made FSANI aware of possible unlawful activity at a meat and poultry coldstore operated by Eurofreeze (Ireland) Ltd, in Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh. The investigation related to almost 406 tonnes of foodstuffs found in the coldstore, and the focus of the enquiry was on illegal repackaging. The coldstore licence was suspended and product removed and condemned as appropriate.

The Food Standards Agency had previously pursued a prosecution against Eurofreeze (Ireland) Ltd on 9 May 2007 in this matter but, on 1 June 2007, the Agency was advised by letter from the Court Service that the conviction had been voided by Enniskillen Magistrates Court following a declaration by the Company Secretary of the company that she was unaware of the summons or proceedings relating to the case.

Eurofreeze (Ireland) was successfully prosecuted on 7 January 2008 on 13 counts of breaching the regulations and fined £5,000 on each count. The Agency received notification of appeal on 21 January 2008.

405.97 tonnes of foodstuffs were condemned and disposed of during this investigation.

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