Slugger O'Toole

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Northern Ireland dog food infiltration known about seven years ago…

Thu 12 December 2013, 5:24pm

So according to the Elliot Report, food crime has been identified as a problem in Northern Ireland since 2005, but nothing was done about it because of a resource problem. Conor Macauley reports for the BBC:

UK customers had “access to perhaps the safest food in the world”, but said government should consider a new food crime unit to help prevent a repeat of the horsemeat scandal earlier this year.

The report did not state where in Northern Ireland the so-called “Category 3 meat” was found, but it was located after officials traced a suspicious container that had arrived in Northern Ireland from Asia.

That led to a follow-up operation at an unnamed cold store. The police were involved and the discovery of an industrial shrink-wrapping machine and forged veterinary documents raised concerns.

The report said it became evident “that the primary business of the cold store was repacking and re-labelling as fit for human consumption Cat 3 ABP meat”.

Category 3 ABP meat is defined by government as meat that has been passed fit for human consumption but which is not intended to be eaten. It may include hides, hair, feathers and bones.

The Elliott Report found that at the cold store there was evidence of “extensive criminal planning”.

“At that time (or currently) there was no capacity for the major criminal investigation that the evidence and the criminal profits justified,” the report said.

The meat was seized and condemned by a magistrates court but the report said the “many leads that were opened up into food crime networks at the time were not followed up”.

So given this was flagged up some seven years ago, who at Stormont knew and did not act?

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Comments (13)

  1. cynic2 (profile) says:

    ….or why didn’t they act?? Who was involved in the scam and who, if anyone, were they friends with / connected to?

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  2. An absolute disgrace.
    There cant be that many cold stores and I presume its no longer open. We have a right to know where.
    Forged Vetinary Certs…any action taken?
    Surely people at all levels in the cold store knew.
    Surely Drivers knew.

    But we are in a “criminal state”. Top to bottom …a farce.
    And it works because too many are involved.

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  3. Ulick (profile) says:

    Excuse and OT but I see from the Queen’s University Moocs page (https://www.facebook.com/QubMoocs) that Chris Elliot and his Institute of Golbal Food Security will be offering a free course in the new year.

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  4. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    There are FSA documents on the case online, one of which is archived here and it was reported in the press at the time. The Stormont Executive was suspended between 2002 and 2007, so there was no Minister in place and it was (presumably) run by DARD officials.

    The McCabe family were also at the centre of the Ballybay Meats dispute in the late 1980s, early 1990s and the Fianna Fáil government at the time were being pressured into holding an inquiry into public money that had went into the plant before its collapse. Central to the allegations at the time were that the McCabes were active in Fianna Fáil (eg see the Dáil debate here and that was influencing the pace of the government response).

    As far as the FSA report seems to go – the issue at the time was that the prosecution did not make a wider case against Euro-Freeze about the use of the machinery and re-labelling. That is what the reference to “nothing being done about it”. According to the Elliot report detecting “food crime” is problematic because so few cases come to light, it is actually hard to categorise the modus operandi.

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  5. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    Great spot Ulick!!!

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  6. Coll Ciotach (profile) says:

    Seven years ago – mmm – would this case be subject to the statute of limitations or whatever it is called, – or is an amnesty in place?

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  7. DC (profile) says:

    ‘So given this was flagged up some seven years ago, who at Stormont knew and did not act?’

    We’ve been fed tripe for much longer than that.

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  8. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    You can put the tinfoil hats away – the resourcing issue refers to the prosecution at the time (Mick – check the moderated comments).

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  9. MrPMartin (profile) says:

    There’s no question that this is despicable but when things like this happen, I am always surprised that people are surprised. Wake up everyone! Things like this are the logical conclusion of the capitalist system

    Businesses would kill our grannies to make an extra buck if they could get away with it. All our worthy laws and measures and regulations are just ramps and tree stumps in the great real life
    Platform game they call the free market

    As long as this stinking system exists, we will hear stories like his ad nauseum ad infinitum

    Companies are treated as individuals in the eyes of the law. Someone once said that such ‘individuals’, if they were real flesh and blood people, would be deemed insane by dint of psychopathy

    But hey, let’s make a new law. Lets have another inquiry an add an extra slow useless purple monster chasing the nimble and smart pacman of free market evil

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  10. tuatha (profile) says:

    So the question seems to be, “what didn’t the authorities know and when didn’t they know it?”… with no apologies to Rumsfeld.

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  11. How many have been prosecuted for fuel laundering? How long has that been going on? Seen the pictures on TV, but don’t recall the follow-up court cases. Isn’t this something for organised crime team? oh, wait….

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  12. Nevin (profile) says:

    Prof Chris Elliott, the inquiry chairman, warned that the sector is a “soft touch” for criminals who know there is little risk of detection or serious penalty, that the Food Standards Agency is insufficiently robust, and that the industry’s audits are inadequate to detect food crime.

    So uncompromising was Elliott’s independent review of the integrity of the food network that its conclusions have led to tensions with the government. Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, and the food industry chose instead to concentrate on Elliott’s finding that the UK food system is one of the safest in the world in terms of hygiene.

    But Elliott says they are so focused on this aspect of food safety that they have failed to understand how serious the risk is from criminal activity. He also called for urgent investigation into whether these groups also cross over to networks already established in trafficking drugs, cigarettes, fuel, firearms or people.

    The new food crime unit, the Elliott review concluded, should be set up as a non-Home Office police force. .. Guardian – “UK food sector is ‘soft touch for criminals’, report says”

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  13. cynic2 (profile) says:

    “Things like this are the logical conclusion of the capitalist system”

    I suggest you move to North Korea where you can starve ethically while shooting the odd businessperson for conspiring to overthrow the state

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