Beef scam lands meat firm with £35k fine

A food firm which sold

Australian meat as British beef has been fined £35,000 at

Kendal Magistrates Court after complaints from local companies.

Oxfordshire's Field Farm Fresh Ltd was also ordered to pay £19,500 in costs after being convicted of 15 charges for

contravening the Food Safety Act and the Trade Descriptions Act.

Cumbria Trading Standards first received reports from Cumbria-based meat wholesalers in 2004 that beef fillets described as 'Oxfordshire's finest meats' and

labelled as of UK origin, had an

Australian health mark on the flesh. The wholesalers had

become suspicious as previous deliveries were missing squares of skin comparable in size to a meat health mark.

Cumbria Trading Standards launched an investigation which resulted in the execution of a warrant on the Field Farm Fresh premises, where they received the assistance of Oxfordshire Trading Standards. Trading Standards officers could find no evidence of any systems that could verify the origin of any of the beef being sold by the firm.

After considerable effort, Cumbria Trading Standards managed to trace the meat in question back through the supply chain to Queensland, Australia. Phil Ashcroft, head of Cumbria Trading Standards, said: "This was a case of good old-fashioned investigative work producing results. The British meat industry, including farmers in Cumbria, already faces stiff competition without illegal operators trying to sneak through foreign meat under a British label. We'd like to thank the Cumbria wholesalers for helping to blow the whistle on the operation."

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