Two meat companies in the United Kingdom have been fined for hygiene offences in separate incidents.
Sandwell Foods, which trades under the name Halal World, was found guilty of four food hygiene offences.
In the second case, Yorkshire Abattoir Services was judged guilty of 12 charges.
Sandwell Foods pleaded guilty to the charges and sentencing was on Nov. 19. Operators of the red and white meat cutting plant in Birmingham were told to pay more than £43,000 ($55,400).
Birmingham Magistrates Court ordered the business to pay a fine of £36,000 ($46,400), costs of £7,190 ($9,270) and a victim surcharge of £170 ($219).
Inspections and audits at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) approved site were increased following a number of failings identified by agency staff.
Officials initially tried to help the business achieve improvements after identifying the issues. However, the increase in audits and inspections found further breaches between June and August 2017 which led to legal action.
Charges were brought against the company for not adequately training staff responsible for developing and maintaining the food safety hazard analysis (HACCP) plan; gaps in the roller shutter door which could allow pests into the site and not maintaining floor to wall joins in good condition.
Dr. Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer of the FSA, said the fine sent a strong message to businesses that disregard hygiene standards put in place to protect consumers.
“The FSA takes these breaches of food safety regulations very seriously and, as this case shows, we will prosecute those businesses that fail to uphold acceptable standards of food hygiene.”
In the second incident, Yorkshire Abattoir Services was ordered to pay more than £34,400 ($44,300).
The red meat slaughterhouse in Osset, Yorkshire pleaded not guilty after failings were identified by FSA inspectors and veterinarians between Nov. 2016 and Jan. 2017.
However, after trial at Leeds Magistrates Court, District Judge Bouch found the firm guilty on all 12 charges. The food business was told to pay a fine of £24,000 ($30,900), costs of £10,234.50 ($13,180) and a victim surcharge of £170 ($219).
Charges brought against the business included failures to prevent contact between outside of the skin and the carcass of sheep during removal of fleece (‘in-rolling’); remove fecal contamination from sheep carcasses without delay and comply with a Remedial Action Notice related to “in-rolling.”
Issues in early November 2016 led to a Remedial Action Notice being served which was breached in late December 2016 and early January 2017. Such notices can prohibit use of equipment, limit or ban certain processes or reduce or stop operations.
Sullivan said the outcome brought the business to justice.
“Where food businesses fail to uphold acceptable food hygiene standards and ignore an order requiring them to halt certain activities, we will investigate and we will look to prosecute.”
Last month, a review of cutting plants and cold stores by the FSA and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) was published following a number of high-profile incidents. It listed 19 recommendations to prioritize food safety and improve industry standards in the meat supply chain.
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