Lamb substitution abattoir fined and branded “un-Australian” by NSW Food Authority

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 5th February 2013

A  NSW mid-North Coast abattoir has been added to the Food Authority’s ‘Name and Shame’ register following a lengthy hearing over “mutton dressed as lamb.”

Tolsat Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $66,000 on December 19, 2012, in the NSW Chief Industrial Magistrates Court for wrongly labelling older meat such as hogget and mutton as lamb.

A media release issued by the NSW Food Authority was headed “Un-Australian: Abattoir convicted of large scale lamb substitution.” This was despite the meat being of Australian origin.

The NSW Food Authority CEO, Polly Bennett said she welcomed the outcome of the court case for the message it sends about lamb substitution.

“Consumers rightly expect meat labels to be correct and not a substituted product,” Ms Bennett said.

“Lamb is a premium commodity and one of the most recognised brands in Australia. Consumers have a right to get what they pay for,” Ms Bennett added.

Ms Bennett said the NSW Food Authority’s investigation stemmed from a state-wide audit of lamb identification procedures in 2008 in conjunction with complaints from industry and a Federal Senate inquiry into meat marketing at that time.

During an audit of Tolsat’s operations, a NSW Food Authority inspection revealed discrepancies in the abattoir livestock and slaughter records at the abattoir, making it apparent that older animals had been processed and supplied to its customers as lamb.

Ms Bennett said that as a result of the NSW Food Authority’s investigation, the court had the evidence to find Tolsat guilty of a total of 66 charges and imposed total fines of $66,000. The company was also ordered to pay the Authority’s legal costs.

Of the 66 charges, 33 charges related respectively each to false description and a failure to comply with the Meat Food Safety Scheme of the Food Act 2003. The long-running matter was defended by the company.

Tolsat Pty Ltd was found to be "dressing mutton as lamb."