A Co.Meath meat wholesaler has been found guilty of falsely declaring beef as being of Irish origin.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) welcomed Judge Gráinne Malone’s ruling at Navan District Court this week, in a case involving Keelaghan Wholesale Meats Ltd of 101-102 Ashbourne Industrial Estate, Ashbourne, Co. Meath and six offences related to breaches of food safety legislation.

These included falsely declaring Irish origin for beef imported from Poland, Lithuania or Germany; the application of false Irish slaughter and cutting plant codes used on packaging labels and; having an inadequate beef traceability plan.

Keelaghan Wholesale Meats Ltd. was found guilty of six charges. The company was fined a total of €16,000, with €10,000 as an agreed contribution to costs.

The case was brought by the FSAI and follows an investigation undertaken by the FSAI in conjunction with Meath Co. Council.

The District Judge said it was a very serious matter and is a fraud not only on the consumer, but on the entire industry.

According to Dr Pamela Byrne, CEO, FSAI, the breaches related to deliberate misleading of the consumer with false labelling of beef incorrectly indicating the country of origin as Ireland, and also using incorrect Irish slaughter and cutting plant codes on the labels.

“Today’s ruling by the courts reinforces that breaches of food law which are in place to protect consumers’ health and interests will not be tolerated.

“Food businesses are obliged by law to ensure that the information they provide to their customers is accurate. Customers must have confidence in their food suppliers and should seek to assure themselves that the food they are purchasing is authentic and that the integrity of the supply chain has not been compromised.

“Food businesses should ensure that they have robust traceability systems in place and that they carry out their own audits of their suppliers to check that they have the appropriate food safety systems in place and are complying with the law,” she said.