Record fines for brain disease breaches at abattoir

04 April 2019, Katie Coyne

An abattoir has been forced to pay a record £265,000 for breaching regulations designed to reduce risk to the public from brain diseases carried by cattle, sheep and goats.

Dunbia in Preston failed to comply with the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2010. It pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to three breaches of failing to remove ‘specified risk material’ from slaughtered animals required by law.

Food Standards Agency inspectors found a sheep without a fully removed spleen and a cow that had not had its spinal cord fully removed. Two sheep heads were also found with permanent incisors erupted, incorrectly identified as lambs and therefore destined for human consumption instead of disposal.

Because Dunbia pleaded guilty it received a reduced fine of £250,000 for the three offences – the highest fine ever handed to a UK meat producer. It was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £16,121.42 and a victim surcharge of £170.

FSA chief operating officer Colin Sullivan said: “This very significant fine underlines just how seriously breaches of these regulations are taken.

“It is vitally important for consumers and the wider industry that they are followed and public health is protected. The FSA will continue to investigate and prosecute any food businesses we find failing to uphold them.

“However, I should put on record that since the start of court proceedings Dunbia has signed up to our enhanced assurance initiative which involves working more closely with the company using data from a range of different audits and other data to help demonstrate compliance with official controls.”

A written judgment from Judge Woolman was issued on 25 March following a sentencing hearing at Preston Crown Court on 11 March.

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