20 August 1997
Now theres 600t of UK beef in Germany
By Boyd Champness
GERMAN officials have intercepted 600 tonnes of British beef with fake Irish labels – and not just the 60t originally reported, according to an official of the main farmers union in Germany.
German Farmers Association animal health specialist Dr Richard Brocker said a German press agency had reported that a Hamburg importer had been questioned by police. Most of the meat seized was believed to be on its way to Russia, but a small amount was expected to be sold to German retailers, he said.
He said it was wrong for UK beef to be exported to other EU member-states while the ban on British beef remained in place, but added that the European medias fascination with such stories was getting tiresome.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland said neither his department nor the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries or Food (MAFF) was prepared to make a statement until it was clear where the meat was sourced from.
But the fact that the Northern Ireland office has been called in to investigate suggests that MAFF suspects the meat might be part of some cross-border smuggling operation.
German customs officials apparently seized the meat at a food-import company in Kaltenkirchen, northern Germany, after monitoring activity over the past three months.
According to an article in the Irish Times today, nameless Irish sources said a trade had developed in the past eight weeks using forged invoices to indicate that British beef was of Irish origin.
The Irish Times said that the Irish Department of Agriculture was believed to have raided a premises in Dublin this week, where bogus invoices were discovered.
The discovery comes only two months after an illegal beef-smuggling operation was exposed in Belgium, where some 1600t of British beef was sent to various countries, including Egypt, Russia and Germany. Two Belgian operators were prosecuted and the agriculture minister Dr Jack Cunningham closed a UK meat plant for its involvement in the scam.
it, according to todays Guardian/I>. The smuggling of more than 500t of beef from Britain in the past six months is reckoned to be the worst contravention to date of the European Union BSE ban. Scores of tons were sold to butchers in Bavaria, Saxony and Lower Saxony.