Police and the food agency in the Netherlands have uncovered an illegal slaughterhouse.

The Intelligence and Investigation Service of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA-IOD) made the discovery in Utrecht at the end of September. One person has been arrested.

The site was visited as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the illegal slaughter of sheep. During the search, two dead sheep were found.

In the Netherlands, slaughtering animals without stunning is only permitted in recognized slaughterhouses and under the supervision of NVWA.

NVWA ensures that slaughter is done correctly. This includes checking whether animals are suitable for slaughter, whether animal welfare rules are observed, whether the work is done hygienically and whether the meat is suitable for human consumption.

When slaughter takes place illegally, there is no oversight. This increases the risks around food safety and animal welfare, said NVWA. The agency advised people only to buy meat through the proper channels.

Document fraud suspected
In another case, the NVWA-IOD searched a business premises and a home in North Brabant and Zeeland in early October. Two different companies are located at the addresses.

The search was part of ongoing inquiries into suspected document fraud in exporting products such as chicken meat to Africa.

The National Office for Serious Fraud, Environmental Crime, and Asset Confiscation (Functioneel Parket) leads the investigation.

NVWA-IOD suspects the two companies of being involved in fraud. The alleged deception is believed to ensure the recipient has to pay less import duties in the destination country.

NVWA said such fraud can pose a risk to food safety, as if something is wrong with the food product, it is more difficult to trace where it come from and who received it if official documents are not accurate.

In 2022, an operation coordinated by Europol was set up to investigate crimes against public health, food fraud, public finances, and false documentation.

NVWA-IOD was investigating document fraud involving meat exported from the Netherlands to Ghana. According to authorities, the chicken meat was declared as fish, with official veterinary certificates and supporting documentation being falsified.

The Spanish National Police and Guardia Civil confirmed a business based in Valencia was involved. Searches also took place in Belgium. 

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