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Thursday, 21 December, 2000, 15:27 GMT
MP urges action on meat fraud
Denis MacShane
Denis MacShane: Believes food fraud is widespread
The government has been urged to set up a special unit to crack down on traffickers in food unfit for human consumption.

The appeal came after the conviction of five people for a multi-million pound meat fraud uncovered by environmental health officers in Rotherham.

Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, said similar scams were going on up and down the country and called for a "Food Bureau of Investigation" to be created.

"The new Food Standards Agency has to get hold of this problem quickly," he said.

Food chain

"We need a Food Bureau of Investigation able to operate anywhere, anytime, with powers to enter premises and make sure unfit poultry meat does not enter the food chain."

Rotherham council's environmental health department, whose members unravelled the three-year plot to sell pet food meat for human consumption, also want a new investigations unit.

A spokesman said: "So far, despite what we found, no-one has yet followed up our findings and undertaken a full investigation into the extent of this illegal trade.

"We feel the Foods Standards Agency should now appoint a special investigations team to undertake a detailed examination of the illicit trade in unfit poultry and other meat products."

High price

The council criticised current arrangements, which leave the cost of investigations with local authorities.

A spokesman said: "The costs of this investigation, estimated to have been 500,000, have been met by Rotherham council taxpayers."

The council also drew attention to a loophole that means while condemned red meat is stained with dye, poultry is not.

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14 Dec 00 | UK
Meat fraud pair guilty
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