Three North Yorkshire food waste businesses have been fined for potentially risking a foot-and-mouth outbreak by dumping food waste on land used to feed livestock.

The firms were handed fines totalling £38,000 for breaching rules over the transportation and disposal of food waste.

F D Todd & Sons Ltd, of Thirsk Industrial Park, Thirsk was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,781 to the Environment Agency, which brought the case.

Coast to Coast Recycling Ltd, of York Road, Tollerton was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,766.

Pro-Pak Foods Ltd, of York Road Industrial Park, Malton was fined £3,200 and ordered to pay costs of £1,848.

At a hearing at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court on Friday (21 October), the court heard waste rice, pasta, noodles and luncheon meat from Pro-Pak Foods was transported by F D Todd & Sons Ltd without the necessary waste transfer notices.

The food was dumped at Home Farm at Aldwack – run by Coast to Coast Recycling – on 2 March, where sheep were grazing in the same field.

Coast to Coast Recycling said it thought the waste was mashed potato and vegetables which was going to be fed to the sheep.

The company agreed what was stored on the land was unsuitable for animal feed.

It said it had not set up waste transfer notices as it did not believe it was waste because animals consumed it.

Pro-Pak told Environment agency officers that its waste always contained about 10% meat, but F D Todd & Sons Ltd claimed the waste’s content had been changed without them being informed.

Coast to Coast Recycling pleaded guilty to breaching waste rules for failing to inspect the waste and assuming it originated from the manufacture of vegetarian ready meals.

An Environment Agency official told the court that the offences had the potential to cause another outbreak of F&M in a region still recovering from the outbreak of the disease a decade ago.

She said laws on feeding meat to animals had been introduced in 1988, with further rules in 2005, to prevent the spread of diseases such as F&M, swine fever and avian flu, as well as bacterial diseases like salmonella and E coli.

Pro-Pak Foods Limited pleaded guilty and admitted it had naively broken food waste rules, while F D Todd & Sons Ltd did not enter a plea but offered an unqualified apology for the failings.

Speaking after the case, Mike Riby, team leader at the Environment Agency said: “We were shocked to find this type of activity happening in an area still suffering from the effects of foot-and-mouth ten years ago.

“This could have caused another outbreak or spread any number of diseases.

“We will always use all our powers available to ensure activities like this don’t happen again.”