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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 17:45 GMT
Meat alert over 'fake label' firm
Euro Freeze in Lisnaskea, in  County Fermanagh
The cold store's operating licence has been suspended
An operation is under way across the UK and in Europe to trace meat distributed by a Northern Ireland firm linked to seized illegal chicken from China.

Department of Agriculture officials found suspected repackaging and re-labelling at a cold store of Euro Freeze Ireland, in County Fermanagh.

The Food Standards Agency has called on UK and EU authorities to trace and inspect meat distributed by the firm.

Euro Freeze Ireland Limited could not be reached for comment.

Poultry meat from China is banned in the UK because of concerns that regulations governing the levels of medicine residues in the animals could be being breached.

Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) officials and police, during a visit to the cold store on 9 November, seized the meat on the premises and halted further distribution after finding suspected repackaging and re-labelling activity.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) later suspended the Lisnaskea cold store's licence, and directed local authorities across the UK to trace and inspect beef, poultry and pork distributed by Euro Freeze to processing plants and other distribution firms.

The FSA also alerted the European Commission to possible suspect product in several countries to which Euro Freeze distributed.

The agency is also inspecting company records to determine the source of the meat seized at the cold store and whether it had been handled correctly.

The FSA said it was first alerted to suspected "irregular activity" involving Euro Freeze after a consignment of chicken from China was seized at Belfast port in August.

Poultry meat from China is banned in the UK due to safety concerns.

An FSA spokesman said: "We haven't identified as yet any health or food safety issues, but what we have to do is trace this meat back to source.

"If it was from China, there would then be possible health and safety issues."

A DARD spokesperson said: "We can confirm that in August 2005 they seized at Belfast Port a consignment of chicken that originated in China. As this is part of an ongoing investigation DARD is not in a position to discuss the location to which this product was consigned."

Inquiry sparks meat alert in UK
21 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland
Meat coldstore probed by agency
18 Nov 05 |  Northern Ireland

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