The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has prosecuted a red meat cutting plant due to food hygiene deficiencies.

Asia Halal Meat Suppliers Ltd, based in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, was fined £14,666 (U.S. $19,200) plus costs of £4,794 (U.S. $6,300) after pleading guilty to food hygiene offenses at Birmingham Magistrates Court this past week.

The FSA filed the charges for failure to ensure staff were wearing appropriate protective clothing, including hairnets and beard snoods. The business was also ordered to pay a £120 ($157) victim surcharge.

An FSA auditor identified the breach of regulations in January 2018 when an employee with facial hair was seen cutting and packing meat without protective clothing in the processing area. When the auditor began to take photographs as evidence the business owner moved into the way.

The company had been given warnings for the same issue in September 2017. That time the problem was detected during an unannounced inspection. The company received written advice following an audit in December of the same year. A Remedial Action Notice (RAN) was served in January 2018 as a further warning.

Dr. Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer of the FSA, said the agency takes breaches of hygiene regulations seriously.

“I am pleased that this company has been held accountable for breaking these rules. Where food businesses fail to uphold acceptable food hygiene standards, we will not be prevented from gathering evidence to allow us to investigate and we will look to prosecute.”

Last year, the FSA and Food Standards Scotland (FSS) reviewed cutting plants and cold stores to identify potential improvements in how the sector was regulated after non-compliances were found at various plants including those operated by 2 Sisters Food Group and Russell Hume.

Findings from the review were published in October 2018. The report included 19 recommendations for industry and regulators with an action plan on how changes are to be implemented.

The recommendations included greater involvement of industry to produce clearer guidance to meet the needs of businesses, more effective use of data by regulatory authorities and improved regulatory coordination and consistency. Seven of them were short term (up to six months), eight were medium term (six to 18 months) and four were longer term (over 18 months).

Cutting plants do not require veterinary control on a daily basis and are inspected through periodic and unannounced visits by the FSA, FSS or local authorities.

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