BSE breaches prompt fines for meat firm

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Cleveland Meat Company was found guilty on 12 charges and entered a guilty plea on a 13th charge
Cleveland Meat Company was found guilty on 12 charges and entered a guilty plea on a 13th charge

Related tags: Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Cleveland Meat Company faces £27,000 in fines and legal costs after being found guilty of breaching food safety rules limiting the risk of consumers’ exposure to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The outcome followed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA’s) prosecution of the firm, which was pronounced guilty on 12 charges and entered a guilty plea on a 13th​ charge during the hearing. The case was heard at Teesside Magistrates Court.

In a brief statement, the FSA claimed Cleveland Meat Company breaches last year had included failure to remove specified risk material (SRM), namely the spinal cord, from a sheep carcass.

Other breaches related to the mislabelling of a skip/bin containing sheep spleens, lack of labelling/mislabelling of SRM bins and inadequate staining of SRM.

The term SRM covers the parts of animals deemed most likely to pose the greatest danger to humans eating it in terms of transmission of the BSE virus.

‘Pleased with successful conclusion’

“We are pleased with the successful conclusion of this prosecution,”​ said FSA chief operating officer Andrew Rhodes.

“These regulations are in place to keep the public safe and the FSA’s job is to ensure they are enforced properly across the country. Where companies are not meeting their responsibilities we will take action.”

At the time that this article was published, no one at Stockton-on-Tees-based Cleveland Meat Company was available for comment.

According to its website, the business has been operating as a meat wholesaler for 35 years, selling Quality Prime British Beef and Lamb to UK customers including Smithfield Market.

It was established in 1973 and its Yarm Road site incorporates an abattoir and boning plant with chilling and freezing facilities.

SRM regulations

SRM regulations cover material from cattle, sheep and goats regarded as posing a risk of BSE transmission. The parts of an animal covered by the rules differ according to its age.

John Cross, chairman of beef and lamb levy-paying body EBLEX, recently claimed​ at the organisation’s annual conference that the SRM rules were “outdated”​ and needed to be changed.

In particular, while he stressed he was not recommending a relaxation of standards, he challenged rules advocating the splitting of older lamb carcasses to meet statutory checks when customers required them whole.

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