Food co 'shamed' for lamb substitution
A COMPANY convicted of large scale lamb substitution at a Mid North Coast abattoir has been added to the NSW Food Authority's "name and shame" register.
Tolsat Pty Ltd, trading as Eversons Food Processors, was convicted and fined $66,000 on December 19 last year in the NSW Chief Industrial Magistrates Court on a total of 66 charges
Thirty-three of the offences - which occurred between October 2007 and January 2008 - related to false description (section 18(2)) and the balance to a failure to comply with the Meat Food Safety Scheme (section 104) of the Food Act 2003.
A spokesperson for the NSW Food Authority said the prosecution was the first of its kind.
It followed 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.
NSW Food Authority chief executive Polly Bennett said a NSW Food Authority inspector had noticed problems with the dentition checks the abattoir was conducting when it classified carcases as lamb during an audit of Tolsat's operations.
"At a follow-up investigation, officers found discrepancies in the abattoir livestock and slaughter records and it appeared that older lambs had been processed and supplied to its customers as lamb."
She said the outcome of the case sent a strong message about lamb substitution.
"Consumers rightly expect meat labels to be correct and not a substituted product," Ms Bennett said.
"Meat substitution laws are in place in NSW for a reason - flouting them also puts other businesses at a disadvantage for doing the right thing.
"Lamb is a premium commodity and one of the most recognised brands in Australia; consumers have a right to get what they pay for."
The Land was unable to contact Tolsat Pty Ltd, which according to the NSW Food Authority website no longer operates the abattoir, for comment.