New South Wales Food Authority on prosecution prowl for meat preservatives

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th December 2011

A Sydney butcher who used illegal additives to make meat appear more appealing has been fined over A$9,000 by the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court, relating to four offences under the New South Wales Food Act.

New South Wales Food Authority’s Acting CEO, Craig Sahlin, said the court’s decision to fine Abdul Hassan, trading as Green Valley Halal Meats a total of A$9,000 plus costs was a stern reminder to those who flout food safety laws.

An officer from the NSW Authority visited Green Valley Halal Meats in May 2011 following a complaint made by a consumer who had suffered an asthmatic reaction as a result of eating meat sold by the butcher.

Samples of diced meat obtained from the Green Valley premises were found to contain the illegal preservative sulfur dioxide (SO2) which is often used to disguise old or inferior meat. Sausages and sausage meat product also found at the premises were found to contain SO2 well in excess of the permitted level for sausages.

Mr Sahlin said that illegal and excessive use of preservatives in food will not be tolerated.

“The NSW Food Authority is diligent in its investigation and enforcement to ensure food products are safe and that consumers are protected. The addition of sulfur dioxide to meat can make it appear redder, brighter and fresher to consumers,” Mr Sahlin said.

“Not only is this deceptive it can also present a very real danger for people who are allergic to the chemical, such as people who suffer from asthma.”

Abdul Hassan was previously fined for one offence under the NSW Food Act for adding SO2 to minced meat.

In imposing the fine, the Chief Industrial Magistrate said the offender was no longer entitled to the leniency that was generally provided to those who have not previously committed offences.

The NSW Food Authority routinely inspects food premises for safety and hygiene and to test for sulfur dioxide in meat.

“While the vast majority of licensed operators do the right thing, it takes just one dodgy operator to put consumers at risk which can have serious consequences for their health,” Mr Sahlin said. “This butcher has clearly not got the message from the previous fine and has been caught again. This business will continue to be monitored by the NSW Food Authority.”

Details of the prosecution have been added to the NSW Food Authority’s Name and Shame register that is available for public viewing at www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au