5 April 2002

Police swoop over unfit meat seizure

POLICE in west Wales and London have made seven arrests as part of a major investigation into the storage and sale of unfit meat.

This followed the seizure of 11,000 boxes of what was described at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court as "decomposing and foul smelling" beef and sheepmeat, which were found by environmental health officers in an unlicensed cold store at Llandre near Aberystwyth.

Magistrates agreed that the meat, with a potential wholesale value of about £37,000, was unfit for human consumption. They also heard from Levon Stephan, an Exeter based high-ranking Meat Hygiene Service vet, that there was evidence in some boxes of the blue dye used to mark highly contaminated meat, such as that from BSE infected cattle.

An additional amount of frozen beef with an estimated value of £3000 was also seized from the unlicensed store.

Within days police searched several premises, including a London shop, and arrested seven people including the owner of the cold store.

"All the warrants were executed on Tue, Mar 26, and I can confirm that seven people were arrested as part of the multi-agency investigation into criminal offences associated with the illegal slaughter and processing of meat," said detective inspector Gareth Jones of Dyfed Powys Police.

Conspiracy?

"They have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal deception. The involvement of the police is an indication of the seriousness with which these matters are being viewed by the relevant agencies."

The seven have been released on police bail while inquiries continue in both Wales and England.

"We do not want to do anything to undermine the confidence of consumers, who can be reassured that the action is part of an effort to ensure the highest possible standards are adhered to in relation to meat hygiene in west Wales."

The investigation is being co-ordinated from Aberystwyth police station, and DI Jones is appealing to farmers and anyone else who has information to contact Aberystwyth 612791. &#42