It was found to have failed to ensure the removal of specific animal parts, which are categorised as risk materials. The breach was uncovered during an unannounced inspection by the Foods Standards Agency (FSA) in November 2018.
Inspectors found carcases and records that showed the business had not removed the material from animals over 30 months old.
The Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2010 require correct removal and disposal of specific parts of animals before they enter the food chain to reduce risk from brain diseases to which cattle, sheep and goats are vulnerable. The most widely recognised of these diseases is BSE in cattle (referred to as ‘mad cow disease’), which has been linked to human diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
According to the FSA report, a total of 33 carcases still containing the parts were sent to a meat cutting plant between 15 September 2017 and 30 October 2017.
The business had initially pleaded not guilty before changing its plea. District Judge McCormack, of Preston Magistrates’ Court, gave the business a reduced £35,440 fine because of the guilty plea. It was also ordered to pay the FSA’s full prosecution costs of £9,384 and a victim surcharge of £170.
Dr Colin Sullivan, chief operating officer at the FSA, said: “This fine underlines how seriously breaches of public health regulations are taken. It is vitally important for consumers and the wider industry that regulations are followed and public health is protected.
“The FSA will continue to investigate and consider prosecutions to ensure regulations are upheld.”
In March, Dunbia was given a £266,000 fine by the FSA for a similar offence, in this case, not fully removing the spleen from a carcase. Legislation regarding the spleen and its classification as specified risk material changed in July 2018, after the inspection that led to the Dunbia fine.