Illegal poultry farm shut down

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 23rd June 2008

An illegal poultry farm in Papakura has been shut down in a joint operation between the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), the Police, Environment Waikato, Franklin District Council and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Representatives from the various agencies last week executed search warrants on two rural properties in South Auckland under the Animal Products Act on the basis of the illegal slaughter and sale of poultry and eggs to a number of Auckland retailers.

It is essential that poultry and eggs are processed, stored and transported using good hygienic practices in order to minimise the presence of illness-causing bacteria.
Although NZFSA is not aware of any specific food safety complaints about products connected to this processor, compliance with regulations is vital to protect public safety.

“This processor has consistently failed to comply with their legal obligation of having a registered risk management programme (RMP) in place,” NZFSA Assistant Director Justin Rowlands says. “In early 2007 NZFSA served a notice of direction on the company. However, they did not comply despite receiving multiple offers of assistance from NZFSA and providing assurances that they would develop an RMP.”

All egg producers with more than 100 female birds and all poultry slaughterhouses are required to operate under an RMP, which describes the procedures companies use to identify, control, manage, eliminate or minimise hazards and risk factors in relation to the processing of animal material or product, in order to ensure that the resulting product is fit for its intended purpose. It involves identifying the food safety risks in various processes and the company’s plan to manage those risks. It also includes regular independent verification and oversight.

During the two day operation more than 137,000 eggs at an estimated value of $21,000 were seized and destroyed. As a result of the animal welfare inspection it was necessary to euthanise more than 1,100 mainly broiler chickens. Authorities are working with the occupiers of the two properties to arrange for the removal of the remaining 7,500 laying hens and pullets at the two sites following the relocation of 5,000 hens to another RMP facility over the weekend. Arrangements have been made to ensure the continued care of the remaining birds in the interim. The property will continue to be regularly monitored by NZFSA.

The operator is likely to face charges under the Animal Products Act 1999 in relation to operating a poultry slaughter and processing facility without having an RMP and the illegal sale of poultry and eggs.

Two people were arrested during the operation for violence offences against police.