Crackdown on NSW backyard butchers

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 6th July 2010

The NSW Food Authority has swooped in on illegal backyard ready-to-eat meat manufacturers, issuing 27 penalty notices, five improvement notices, four prohibition orders and ten warning letters.

“An investigation was conducted following concerns at a growing number of dodgy backyard butchers producing ready to eat meat products,” said Primary Industries Minister Steve Whan.

Minister Whan said that ‘ready to eat meat’ refers to meat products that may be raw, uncooked, cooked, dried, cured or processed, such as Vietnamese ‘Nem Chua’ (fermented pork rolls), salami, ham, chicken nuggets and frankfurts.

“The issue with ready to eat meat products is they require controlled regulatory oversight and specialised equipment and processing to ensure food safety,” he said.

“Unlicensed operators work outside these parameters, which means unknowing consumers could be vulnerable to food safety risks.”

“In some cases these unlicensed, unregulated products are then sold to the public through small retail outlets, delis, restaurants, cafes and weekend farmers markets.”

Officers from NSW Food Authority’s enforcement unit assessed 80 meat products and inspected 23 food retail outlets in the Sydney metropolitan area as part of the investigation. The investigation will continue through 2010, focusing on regional NSW.

“The majority of enforcement action was taken against unlicensed businesses,” Whan said.

“A positive outcome of this investigation has been that three of the five unlicensed businesses operating from commercial premises now hold the appropriate license and have achieved compliance with the Food Safety Code – the other two are no longer making meat products.”