Raw meat in a butchers

Illegal meat-cutting operations shut down following raids

Nearly three tonnes of meat, destined for sale in the UK, has been destroyed by Wiltshire council after being exposed to contamination.
27 October 2021 , By Steve Smethurst

A man has been fined over £4k for multiple food hygiene offences following Wiltshire Council’s discovery of two squalid meat-cutting operations running illegally at car-washes. The case comes as the FSA considers changes to how inspectors carry out Official Controls in the meat, dairy and wine sectors.

An investigation by EHOs from Wiltshire Council's Food and Safety team led to Army reservist, Gent Jakupi pleading guilty to 39 food-hygiene offences. This followed raids in October and November 2020 on illegal meat-cutting operations at two hand car-washing premises in Ludgershall, Wiltshire.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard that serious hygiene breaches led to emergency closures at the time of the raids. Council officers, working with a Food Standards Agency (FSA) veterinary officer, found whole and part carcasses being cut under poor conditions, exposing the meat to contamination. The meat confiscated included beef, lamb and goat, which was being cut and packed for sale in the UK. Magistrates approved an order allowing the council to destroy 2.7 tonnes of meat.

In a summary of the council’s case, senior EHO, Sarah Grubb said: “The structural condition of the premise did not comply with the food hygiene regulations. The garage was filthy; there was oil and other liquids on the floor of the garage, meat debris on the forecourt, dog faeces on the floor of the garage and adjacent office. Food handlers were not wearing protective clothing such as apron or gloves and were not able to wash their hands as there were no hand-washing facilities.”

Chairman of the bench, Helen Toomer ordered Mr Jakupi pay £4,024.50 costs to the council to cover the cost of officers preparing paperwork and the fees incurred in destroying the meat. He is due to be sentenced on 5 November, 2021.

“[This case] demonstrates the importance of having professionals on the ground who can take swift action to protect consumers from the risks associated with unfit meat.”

Kate Thompson, CIEH Director said: “This is an excellent result for Wiltshire’s Food and Safety team. It demonstrates the importance of having professionals on the ground who can take swift action to protect consumers from the risks associated with unfit meat. Let’s hope the sentence reflects the seriousness of the offences and sends out a clear signal to others that compromising food safety will not be tolerated.”

In related news, FSA Chief Executive, Emily Miles has confirmed the agency is looking to change how inspectors carry out Official Controls in the meat, dairy and wine sectors. Speaking at the Association of Meat Inspectors’ Annual Conference in September, she said that enforcement should be part of a wider range of tools to achieve compliance. She said: “We should be using the vast expertise and experience within the FSA to influence and educate where needed. Not that we will shy away from the proportionate use of sanctions if necessary.”

Thompson said: “CIEH responded to the FSA’s consultation on early proposals for a future delivery model for meat and we will be keen to engage with them as their thinking develops. Meat inspection is an important public health measure and there is a potential risk associated with making changes to the delivery model when international trade deals are being negotiated.”

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