After being found guilty of breaching the important food safety rules that protect consumers from exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), Cleveland Meat Company faces fines of up to £27,000.
This outcome follow the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) prosecution of the firm. Cleveland Meat Company has been found guilty of 12 charges in total. It entered a guilty plea for a 13th charge during the court proceedings held at Teesside Magistrates Court.
The FSA issued a statement that claimed the meat firm’s breaches included the failure to remove specified risk material (SRM) from a sheep carcass, namely the spinal cord. SRMs are the parts of the animal most likely to carry infection.
Cleveland Meat Company’s other breaches involve the mislabelling of a skip/bin containing sheep spleens, lack of labelling/mislabelling of SRM bins and inadequate staining of SRM.
The government introduced BSE regulations in the late 1980s to reduce the risk of people eating infected meat products. The key part of these protocols being the removal of SRMs, these must be removed in either the slaughterhouse or cutting plant.
Andrew Rhodes, chief operating officer of the FSA, said: “We are pleased with the successful conclusion of this prosecution.
“These regulations are in place to keep the public safe and the FSA’s job is to ensure they are enforced properly across the country. Where companies are not meeting their responsibilities we will take action.”
This announcement comes days after the head of EBLEX, John Cross, said that the protocols were “outdated” and “no longer fit for purpose”. He suggested that risk-based measures would now be more appropriate.
Cleveland Meat Company has been in the meat wholesaling business for over 35 years. According to its website it sells Quality Prime British beef and lamb to customers throughout the UK, including Smithfield Market London and they have recently developed into a major exporter of meat to Europe.
The company has yet to issue a comment regarding the ruling.