Rancid meat delivery claims

A meat-distribution company is alleged to have delivered meat in rancid conditions, reports have claimed.

According to the BBC, a former employee of McLaren Foods, of Ashford, Kent, has alleged there were a number of potentially fatal breaches of health, safety and hygiene laws dating back more than two years.

The employee, Alan Castell, said that rotten meat would often be transported in vans which were not disinfected after.

No action is to be taken against McLaren Foods as the company has now gone into administration, it was reported.

The company supplied hotels in London, including the Dorchester and Claridges, it also supplied schools, hospitals and government offices.

Castell was a van driver for the company and had been taking a case of unfair dismissal, under whistle-blowing legislation, to an employment tribunal, the BBC said.

The action however was abandoned when the company went into administration.

Castell said the vans were not disinfected on a daily basis, and in some cases not even on a weekly basis.

He said vans would be loaded for delivery the night before and then be left overnight with the refrigeration off, before being delivered the next day.

Raw and cooked meat were also transported together with blood dripping onto the shelves below, the BBC report claimed. Castell filmed short video clips and took photos on his mobile phone.

His claims are also backed by the company's own internal inspection reports and minutes of meetings for both 2005 and 2006, the BBC said.

Castell notified the environmental health office in Chelmsford, Essex, which conducted an inspection which deemed conditions at the Chelmsford depot to be satisfactory although it closed down shortly after the inspection due to financial difficulties.

Nobody from McLaren was contactable for comment.

A spokesman for the FSA said: "Any company that delivers either fresh or frozen meat to their customers has a legal responsibility to ensure their product is safe to eat and is ofthe quality expected by the consumer.

"Clearly unhygienic processing, storage or transportation of food is unacceptable and can put the consumer at risk. We would be keen to look into any evidence which suggests hygiene problems along any part of the farm to fork chain in conjunction with any relevant local authority responsible for enforcement action."

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