22 August 1997
Over 600t of UK beef smuggled to Germany
By FWi reporters
GERMAN officials are investigating a local firm in the northern city of Hamburg suspected of importing 600t of British beef.
A world-wide ban was placed on British beef exports by the European Union Commission in March last year following the BSE crisis.
Police are believed to have questioned the owner of the Hamburg firm but have since let him go. He told police that the beef had come from Ireland.
The scam was exposed last week when customs officials seized 60t of British beef at the headquarters of the firm. It is believed that the beef had fake Irish labels.
A raid on the import/export company uncovered documents suggesting that over 400t of British beef was sent to eastern Europe. A much smaller amount is believed to have been sold to local retailers.
A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture for Northern Ireland said neither his department or 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 that the meat might be part of some cross border smuggling operation.