Raids on suspected illegal animal slaughtering plants in south Armagh

Politicians warn that any undermining of agrifood industry could be “catastrophic”


Politicians have expressed concern about damage to the agrifood industry after police made a number of seizures in a combined operation yesterday against suspected illegal animal slaughter and meat cutting plants in south Armagh.

Properties raided
Three properties, two in Forkhill and one in Bessbrook, were raided in an operation involving the PSNI, the North’s Department of Agriculture and Regional Development, Newry and Mourne District Council and supported by the Food Standards Agency. Police said no illegal activity was discovered at the Bessbrook location.

The Forkhill plants allegedly were run without official hygiene checks and the Food Standards Agency is trying to establish what businesses purchased the produce.

The director of the agency in Northern Ireland, Maria Jennings, said the FSA was working closely with the PSNI and the other agencies to stop further illegal production and to protect the safety of the food chain.

No hygiene checks
“The information we have tells us that meat was being produced illegally, without official hygiene checks. We are currently investigating which businesses have been supplied with meat from the plant and we will provide further information once we have it,” she said.

Local DUP Assembly member William Irwin welcoming the operation said he had been aware for some time of reports of people involved in the illegal slaughtering of animals and the alleged subsequent sale of meat through retail outlets.

“There is a huge emphasis placed on traceability of meat products from the farm gate to the supermarket shelf . . .”

SDLP Assembly member Dominic Bradley said the issue was extremely worrying.

“Anything that calls into question the safety of the food chain is always concerning, especially in light of the horse meat scandal . . .”