Dunbia (Preston) Limited has been handed fines and costs totalling more than £266,000 after pleading guilty for failing to ensure the removal of specified parts of the animals required by law, referred to as “specified risk material”.
The fine is the most significant to be handed out to a UK meat producer and is for failures to comply with the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (England) Regulations 2010.
FSA inspectors found a sheep without a fully removed spleen and a cow that had not had its spinal cord fully removed. The final charge was for two sheep heads with permanent incisors erupted which were incorrectly identified as lambs and therefore destined for human consumption instead of disposal.
After pleading guilty, Dunbia received a reduced £250,000 fine for the three offences and was ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £16,121.42 and a victim surcharge of £170.
The written judgement from HHJ Woolman was issued on Monday 25 March following a sentencing hearing which took place at Preston Crown Court on Monday 11 March.
TSE regulations help to reduce risk from a group of brain diseases that cattle, sheep and goats are vulnerable to by requiring correct removal and disposal of specific parts of those animals before they enter the food chain. The most widely recognised of these diseases is BSE in cattle (referred to as ‘mad cow disease’), which has been linked to the human TSE diseases such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD).
Dr Colin Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at the FSA said:
“This very significant fine underlines just how seriously breaches of these regulations are taken.
“It is vitally important for consumers and the wider industry that they are followed and public health is protected. The FSA will continue to investigate and prosecute any food businesses we find failing to uphold them.”
“However, I should put on record that since the start of court proceedings Dunbia has signed up to our enhanced assurance initiative which involves working more closely with the company using data from a range of different audits and other data to help demonstrate compliance with official controls.”
A man has been sentenced for selling DNP, after a successful prosecution by Allerdale Borough Council.
DNP is an industrial chemical and it is illegal to sell it for human consumption.
Shaun Corrigan was given a nine-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months, 180 hours unpaid work, and was disqualified from being a director of a company for two years after selling the toxic drug.
An investigation led by Allerdale Borough Council, with support from the FSA’s National Food Crime Unit and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), resulted in a raid on Shaun Corrigan’s business premises in Wigton on 5 September 2017. Officers found DNP in powdered and tablet form and the council also seized equipment capable of producing the DNP tablets.
Mr Corrigan pleaded guilty to the charge of offering for sale the substance called 2,4 Dinitrophenol (DNP) as a ‘fat burner’ and weight-loss drug at Carlisle Magistrates Court on 29 September 2018. On 6 February 2019, a jury at Carlisle Magistrates Court, found Enhanced Athlete Europe Limited, a company for which Mr Corrigan was the sole director, guilty of placing an unsafe food product on to the market. The company was sentenced to a £100,000 fine, plus costs.
Speaking after the case, Allerdale Borough Councillor Carni McCarron-Holmes, Executive member with responsibility for Housing, Health and Wellbeing, praised the work of officers saying: “This has been a really meticulous investigation by Council officers and I’m really pleased that it has resulted in a guilty plea by Mr Corrigan, and a successful prosecution of Enhanced Athlete Europe Ltd. People need to be aware of the dangers associated with DNP and drugs that can be bought over the internet.”
Darren Davies, Head of the National Food Crime Unit, added: “DNP is a toxic chemical and the danger posed by this substance, with a very real risk of death, needs to be highlighted. It is completely irresponsible and unforgiveable to be selling this item for human consumption. We were pleased to work with Allerdale Council and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to secure this successful prosecution.”
What is DNP?
DNP is poisonous to humans and those taking it can experience: nausea, vomiting, restlessness, flushed skin, sweating, dizziness, headaches, rapid breathing and an irregular heartbeat. Since 2007, at least 25 people in the UK have died as a result of taking it.
The UK’s two food regulators today published a draft review with a series of recommendations for the meat industry and the regulators themselves aimed at improving compliance and assurance in the meat processing industry.
The six-month review was launched in the wake of a number of high profile non-compliance issues identified at cutting plants.
The review took a fundamental look at how the current arrangements could work better and focused on tackling the root causes of common issues, and not just the symptoms.
The recommendations, which are subject to the approval of each organisation’s Board at a meeting in Edinburgh on 17 October, are designed to prioritise food safety and improve overall industry standards in the meat supply chain.
The 19 recommendations for industry and regulators include:
Jason Feeney, Chief Executive of the Food Standards Agency, said:
"We launched this review following a series of high profile events over the last 12 months at a number of meat businesses. These incidents cast a shadow over the whole sector and not just the businesses directly at fault. This challenged consumer confidence and trust in the industry as a whole".
"This in-depth review has identified actions that the meat industry and the regulatory authorities can take to make improvements".
"There are good reasons why the meat industry has specific controls in place to protect public health and provide assurance about the authenticity of meat products on the market".
"We are pleased the industry participated so fully in this approach and we expect them to continue to work with us to deliver the recommendations once they have been agreed".
Geoff Ogle, Chief Executive of Food Standards Scotland, said:
"This review is essential for ensuring the public continues to have full confidence in the safety of the UK’s meat industry. The majority of our meat sector acts responsibly ensuring food safety compliance across their process, and it is important that the actions of a minority do not damage the reputation of the whole sector.
"That’s why we and the Food Standards Agency have looked at a comprehensive evidence base and have made wide-ranging recommendations for improvement for both industry and regulators that will ensure the high standards and safety we expect in our meat industry.
"The input of industry bodies in this review has been, and will continue to be, paramount and we thank everyone who has contributed.
"When our respective Boards have agreed the next steps, we will work to deliver the improvements identified. All decisions and actions will continue to be taken in the best interests of consumers and will be based on the evidence base and expert scientific advice. We all have a part to play in ensuring the safety of our meat and meat products.'
Background to the review
The review was announced in February 2018 to identify potential improvements in the way the sector is regulated in the wake of non-compliance issues identified at cutting plants. Emerging findings were published and discussed at the FSA and FSS Board meetings in May and June.
A comprehensive stakeholder engagement and evidence gathering process has been conducted which included:
The draft report and board paper can be accessed at the https://www.food.gov.uk/about-us/meat-cutting-plant-and-cold-store-review
The results are from a bespoke survey, released today by the Food Standards Agency (FSA), in partnership with Allergy UK (AUK) and the Anaphylaxis Campaign (AC), on the views of young people living with food allergies and intolerances. The survey also revealed that while 67% of respondents reported being aware of the legal requirement of food businesses to provide information on the top 14 allergens, only 14% felt extremely confident asking for allergen information when dining out and 14% reported feeling not at all confident.
Working with AUK and AC, we are launching easy to ASK, a campaign designed to empower young people to ask food businesses about allergens when eating out, so that they can make safe choices. The campaign follows several allergy-related deaths among young people – data shows that children and young adults are disproportionately more prone to die from an allergic reaction than adults.
Easy to ASK is also a reminder to businesses to be up front about the provision of accurate allergen information, particularly with this vulnerable group. Asking a customer if they have food allergies could save a life. The campaign includes the simple mnemonic:
Other findings include:
'Living with a food allergy or intolerance is not easy and can have fatal consequences. Many in this age group will be students starting out at university or college, in new surroundings and with new friends. It’s crucial that they feel confident to speak up and ask for allergen information, and that the people around them make that easier.
'Food businesses have an important part to play in making this age group feel more at ease. They are required always to provide accurate allergen information. Through our easy to ASK campaign, we’re raising awareness and understanding to boost the confidence of young people, and we’re encouraging food businesses to make it easier for everyone to ask the question, speak up and help keep those at risk safe.'
Survey reportYoung people and food allergies/intolerances was conducted by the Food Standards Agency in partnership with Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis Campaign. The survey is based on responses from 2599 young people aged 16-24 in the UK.
Many respondents skipped some of the questions. Therefore, tables are based on the respondents to the relevant question, rather than all 2599 respondents.
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