Irish coldstore firm fined

The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSANI) welcomed the conviction of a meat coldstore in County Fermanagh, for offences under food hygiene legislation, at Magherafelt Magistrates Court.

Eurofreeze (Ireland) was prosecuted by FSANI for offences under the hygiene regulations that applied to the licensed meat coldstore, including use of the premises for a purpose for which it was not licensed and breaches of health marking requirements, as laid down by European and national law.

The company has been fined £5,000 on each of 13 breaches of the regulations, making a total fine of £65,000.

FSANI director Morris McAllister said: "We are very pleased with the magistrate's decision. This prosecution sends a clear-cut message that the FSA will vigorously protect the interests of consumers and pursue food businesses where unlawful activity is detected. This verdict is recognition by the courts of the hard work carried out by staff from the FSA, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and district councils in pursuing this case.

"This was a complex multi-agency investigation that has required extensive resources, including the gathering and review of considerable amounts of evidence, and we thank our colleagues in DARD, the Meat Hygiene Service, Fermanagh District Council, and others, for their efforts in achieving this 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), 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.