'Condemned' meat found at butchers

FOOD safety officials last night revealed they could take further legal action against a butcher's shop after it was discovered it was in possession of condemned meat.

Russell Claydon

FOOD safety officials last night revealed they could take further legal action against a butcher's shop after it was discovered it was in possession of condemned meat.

Babergh District Council's environmental health team visited the premises in Hadleigh High Street on Friday after receiving information from a local resident that Mark and Anne-Marie Rothwell, of Pierpoint's, had taken possession of pig meat from a supplier other than a licensed abattoir.

Ten pig carcasses, weighing more than 700kgs, were formally condemned at Sudbury Magistrates' Court yesterday and will now be incinerated.

No action was taken against the butcher's but magistrates' awarded legal costs of £1,000 against the supplier of the meat, farmer Michael Barrell, of Stowmarket. He was also ordered to pay incineration costs of £298.

After the case Babergh said they were considering further legal action against Barrell and the butcher's.

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Emma Richbell, Babergh's senior food and safety officer, who led the investigations and subsequent action, said: “It is a legal requirement that any meat for sale comes from livestock slaughtered in a licensed abattoir and is stamped accordingly.

“It is a serious offence to bypass these requirements as the lack of any formal traceability back to the supplier makes it very difficult to vouch for the healthiness of the meat.”

John Rainer, food and safety regulation manager at Babergh, said: “We are constantly checking food outlets for this, and related issues, and always adopt a zero-tolerance approach where risks to public health are concerned.

“The Council is now pulling together all the evidence that it has gathered with a view to further legal action concerning both the butcher and supplier involved.”

Meat slaughtered at an abattoir has a range of pre and post-mortem checks carried out by a vet as well as being accompanied by documentation detailing any medical treatment of the live animals.

The Rothwell's, who only took over the shop in December, said last night they were “baffled and disappointed” that the council was considering prosecution after the court case.

“I am completely outraged. They are making a mountain out of a molehill. We have co-operated with Babergh right from the beginning and as far as I am concerned we did nothing wrong,” Mrs Rothwell said. “It was not going to be sold and they knew that.”

Her husband said when he took the job on he was under the impression he would cut up the carcasses for £20 a pig, to cover costs, and Barrell would be giving all the meat out to his staff as their Christmas bonus.

Last night Barrell said he did not wish to comment at this stage.

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