Court's destroy order for foul find

Hundreds of tonnes of meat seized during a Food Standards Agency investigation in County Fermanagh must be destroyed.

Hundreds of tonnes of meat seized during a Food Standards Agency investigation in County Fermanagh must be destroyed, a court has ordered after some of the product was found decomposing, foul smelling and green coloured.

Some of the meat examined at Euro Freeze Ireland (Ltd) in Lisnaskea was found with bogus health markings and an expiry date of October 2000.

The authorities seized a substantial quantity of meat at the premises in November 2005. Following a four-week hearing at Fermanagh Magistrates Court, resident magistrate Liam McNally ordered the company to pay the costs of destroying the meat. The court ruled that all 254 meat and poultry pallets, each weighing 1,000kg, intended for human consumption should be condemned.

However, an application to have it condemned was opposed by George McCabe of Euro Freeze.

The magistrate said meat was being repackaged at the Euro Freeze plant in "fundamental breach" of its operating licences. The bogus health markings on some meat purported to be from various countries including the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain and Italy and pallets were incorrectly labelled, which meant it was difficult to trace where the meat came from and when it was produced.

There was also evidence of meat having been thawed and re-frozen as well as packaging being re-used, the court heard.

The FSA investigation followed the discovery of a consignment of chicken breasts from China at Belfast Port last August. The chicken bore Italian labels and health marks and, because of the possible fraudulent use of these labels, was destroyed.

The FSA welcomed the court's decision after the Agency had applied to have the meat condemned as part of an ongoing, multi-agency investigation into re-packaging and re-labelling activity at the Euro Freeze Ireland (Ltd) coldstore.

In a statement from the FSA it said: "While the magistrate's decision makes clear his view of the activities undertaken at Euro Freeze (Ireland) Ltd, this is an ongoing and complex case. That wider investigation, informed by yesterday's decision, will continue, with a view to possible criminal proceedings."1,000 kilos.