Illegal meat haul

Five illegal sheep carcases and an amount offal has been seized from a food store and destroyed.

Five illegal sheep carcases and an amount of offal were seized from a food store by environmental health officers and destroyed by order of the court after failing to meet statutory meat hygiene regulations.

Manager of Surma Foods, in Gladstone Street, Darlington, Anayath Hassan, said he felt "foolish" for buying meat from a mobile supplier which bore no health marks to prove the animals were slaughtered and processed in an approved premises.

He added the new supplier had visited his shop four or five times offering what he thought looked to be "fresh and safe meat" but an Order for Condemnation of the food was granted by Bishop Auckland Magistrates' Court under the Food Safety Act 1990.

It is the first time meat of this standard has been found in Darlington borough. Hassan said when Environmental Health Officers visited his shop they explained the difference between marked and unmarked meat and said he would only supply legal meat in future. He added he would no longer buy meat from the mobile supplier.

"We never imagined these people could do these sorts of things in an unauthorised way," Hassan said.

Stephen Harker, cabinet member for consumer and environmental services, said: "The council's enforcement officers are committed to working with all businesses to protect the public and any breaches of standards will be treated very seriously."

A council environmental health officer told the Journal the problem of un-marked meat could be more widespread than previously thought.

The council's investigations into the shop are continuing.

* Please note the picture used above is an example to illustrate one of the health marks required to identify legal carcases.