Suspected illegal meat operations discovered in the Midlands and Northern Ireland

Suspected illegal meat operations were discovered and products seized in separate investigations in the Midlands and Northern Ireland.

A police operation in the Newry and Mourne area of Northern Ireland, uncovered an allegedly illegal slaughterhouse and cutting plant after two properties were searched on Monday (3 March) in the village of Forkhill.

Maria Jennings, director of the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in Northern Ireland said: The FSA is working closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and all relevant authorities, including the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and the district council on this investigation in order to stop further production at this plant and to protect the safety of the food chain. The information we have tells us that meat was being produced illegally, without official hygiene checks.

We are currently investigating which businesses have been supplied with meat from the plant and we will provide further information once we have it.

Elsewhere, hundreds of packaged meat items and equipment were seized by Staffordshire County Councils trading standards team last week, after it discovered suspected illegal meat production operations in Stafford, Uttoxeter and South Derbyshire.

High-end products such as venison were taken, which did not have authorised health stamps, and two people were arrested and bailed. Production equipment, including packaging and labels, were also seized.

Staffordshire County Council said initial analysis of the items had shown meat contamination.

The investigation followed a call to Stafford Borough Council by a member of the public.

The operation was supported by environmental health officers at Stafford Borough Council, East Staffordshire Borough Council, South Derbyshire District Council and Staffordshire Police.

Staffordshire County Councils cabinet member for economy and infrastructure Mark Winnington said: Food fraud damages the local economy, affecting legitimate businesses, jobs and consumers. We have joined together to use our resources effectively and, fortunately, managed to stop illegal activity.

The products seized have no traceability and do not have approved health stamps. If it is found that they have been fraudulently using another business stamp, this could have put jobs on the line. It is in all our interests to make Staffordshire a safer and more prosperous county, which is why todays operation is important.

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