Abattoir Staff to face trial


Three slaughtermen and two bosses at an abattoir in North Yorkshire will stand trial in January next year facing charges relating to alleged mistreatment of animals.

The charges relate to the treatment sheep as they were killed at Bowood abattoir in December 2014, at Busby Stoop near Thirsk, following an investigation carried out by an animal rights group.

Mr Lewandowski, 30, from Darlington, was charged with two counts of causing suffering to four sheep by lifting them by their fleeces during the slaughter process.

Kabeer Hussain, 44, from Bradford, was charged with causing unnecessary suffering to 24 sheep by failing to give them sufficient time to lose consciousness before they were killed.

Kazam Hussein, 54, from Bradford, was charged with causing suffering to 29 sheep, including not giving sheep enough time to lose consciousness, striking them during slaughter, and failing to cut their throats with a single cut.

Robert Woodward, 69, and his son, William, 31, both from Daventry were charged with failing to act to take reasonable steps to prevent the actions of several employees that caused the animals to suffer.

In November a district judge had ruled prosecutors had taken too long to bring the case to court, making proceedings legally void.

However the Crown Prosecution Service appealed against the finding and it was overturned by two High Court judges sitting in Leeds earlier this year.

At York Magistrates Court on Thursday (July 27) District Judge Adrian Lower listed the case for a four day trial at Northallerton Magistrates Court, after the defendants all pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing at the court in Northallerton.

Story – northern echo

Emily Flanagan

Japan ups tariffs on US beef

Japan is likely to raise tariffs on frozen beef imports from the United States and some other countries to protect domestic producers against imports, according to local media, pending import data due out on Friday.

Tariffs on frozen beef would jump to 50 percent from the current 38.5 percent between Aug. 1 and the end of March next year if a “safeguard” mechanism designed to protect domestic farmers is triggered by the import data, local reports said on Thursday, without citing sources.

An increase would be the first time in 14 years the mechanism has been tripped, and would come as U.S. President Donald Trump tries to expand the American exports to Japan.

A tariff increase is automatic if quarterly beef imports from all nations and from countries that do not have economic partnership agreements (EPAs) with Japan both rise more than 17 percent from a year earlier, said an official with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Frozen beef imports from the United States have risen this year as another major supplier, Australia, was hit by drought, the Yomiuri daily newspaper said.

Still, the beef import figures for June would have to show a significant leap to trigger the tariff increase.

full story – Reuters


Butchers Damaged In Hate Crime

A butcher shop has been damaged in Norwich, in what police are treating as a hate crime attack

On Tuesday night a brick was thrown at the halal shop on Magdalen Street, smashing the window. Officers say they are following up several leads.

It’s not the first time the shop has been damaged, last year they had to recover after a car crashed through the shop front.

Mohammed Haider has been running the shop for seven years, he says he’s ‘had enough’ and has been put off running the business.

He described the attack as shocking: “You feel down, two accidents in one year its really hard. The car crash closed the shop for five or six months, we lost the customers and we built up the business again.

“The customers when they come in and they see the damage they feel insecure.”

Police have arrested a man, who is aged in his 40s and from the Norwich area, following the incident.


Read more at heart.co.uk

Charlotte Sullivan

Six Australian meat companies hit with China export bans


Six Australian meat companies have been barred from selling beef and lamb to China, raising concerns about the reliability of Australia’s $750 million meat ­export trade with the Asian powerhouse.

The temporary bans are linked to meatworks in specific locations across three states, with Chinese import authorities imposing the bans because labels “did not comply” with paperwork.

But it is feared the meat export bans are tit-for-tat retaliation for Australia’s decision earlier this year to ban all imports of fresh and cooked prawns from China.

The prawn ban, which also ­affected Vietnamese prawns, was imposed by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce after an outbreak of white spot disease devastated several prawn farms in southern Queensland.

The meatworks affected by the bans ironically include the Kilcoy abattoir at Gympie, Queensland, which is owned by China’s New Hope group. Also affected are two run by the world’s biggest meat business, Brazil’s JBS, at Scone, NSW, and Beef City near Toowoomba, Queensland; Thomas Foods Group’s lamb meatworks at Murray Bridge, South Australia; the Cannon Hill abattoir owned by Australian Country Choice, and the Northern Meat Co-operative in Casino, NSW.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo said he had been ­advised on Wednesday of the bans by Chinese officials concerned about labelling “inconsistencies”.

China has given the Australian exporters 45 days to ­address the mislabelling concerns.

But Mr Ciobo said there was much greater urgency, given that all of the companies had ­containers of frozen beef and lamb on ships due to arrive in China soon.

“The significance of this is certainly something that has mobilised action on our part; this is a crucial export industry with tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars (of meat) directly affected by these bans,” Mr Ciobo said.

“We want to deal with this as expediently as possible, and to solve whatever problems the Chinese have with these meatworks.”

He added that he had spoken to Chinese authorities on Wednesday and that Australia’s acting ambassador to China would hold talks in Beijing on Thursday.

One major Australian meat exporter said his Chinese staff had alerted him a fortnight ago to fears Australian meat imports were about to face extra scrutiny.

full story – the Australian

Sue Neales/Rowan Callick

EU lamb market continues to struggle

The EU lamb market continues to struggle in 2017, with household purchases down on year earlier levels in the key consuming countries.

The market seems to be struggling from both a shortage of supplies and a lack of demand, and is a worrying development for the sheep sector. This is despite promotion campaigns being undertaken in the EU which includes EU funding, with the sheep meat market continuing to lose price competitiveness compared to other meats.

Consumer panel data is available for France, Spain and the UK which are the main consuming markets. The data available excludes the food service, although arguably it is less significant than in-home consumption.

In France in 2017 household volume purchases have been down nearly 2% to 11 June. This at least has been in line with the fall in total meat purchases and represents a better performance in comparison to beef, which was 3% lower.

Retail price inflation for sheep meat has been very marginal, so spending declined by less than 2%. The performance of lamb so far in 2017 has greatly improved on 2016, when as a whole, volume purchases were down over 4% on 2015.

In Spain, household purchases in the first four months of 2017 have been down as much as 10% compared to a year earlier. This has been on top of the 4% reduction on the year in 2016. Unfortunately for the sector, sheep meat is the worst performer of all the meats.

Retail price inflation for sheep meat amounted to just over 2% in the first four months of 2017, resulting in household expenditure declining by 8%. Sheep meat production in Spain is higher so far this year. However, in terms of supplies available for the domestic market, imports have been considerably lower, while exports have been substantially higher.

The UK lamb market has also under performed compared to other meats, with volume purchases in 2017 to 18 June reportedly down 13% year-on-year.

Availability has certainly been well down, mainly due to a sharp downturn in supplies of New Zealand lamb. At the same time lamb price inflation has been as much as 7%, which is running ahead of other meats.

Volume purchases of both leg roasting joints and lamb chops/steaks have been well down this year. The volume decline on the year in 2016 was already 5%, although stability was recorded in 2015.

Taking account of the supply situation both within the EU and in New Zealand there seems to be little scope for increasing product availability in the shorter terms. No significant year on year increases in production are forecast for the EU in the second half of this year.

A shortage of New Zealand lamb combined with the firmer global market, will continue to impact on its availability within the EU. Such developments in both the EU and New Zealand seem likely to continue in 2018. At the same time EU exports of both live sheep and sheep meat, while still small, are growing which reduces available supplies on EU markets such as in Spain.


French farmers crowd-funding for a ‘humane’ abattoir

A group of French farmers hopes to set up an abattoir aimed at reducing stress and suffering for farm animals.

Around 100 farmers from the Limousin region are seeking funding to set up a slaughterhouse that prioritises the animals’ welfare – by projecting images, sounds, and smells of the countryside into the room where they spend their final moments.

They hope to raise €100,000 over three months and, if successful, the abattoir will be built in Bourganeuf in the central Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. Animal welfare organisations including the AFAAD (Association for the Slaughter of Animals in Dignity) and researchers specialising in animal behaviour have helped with the project.

Cows would enter via a round corridor, a design chosen after extensive study as the least stressful. The slopes, textures, and lighting of the corridor have been carefully designed “to avoid imbalance and the risk of falling”, the farmers say.

In the slaughter room, the animals would feel reassured by projections of images of local landscapes, and soothing sound effects.

Then, a robot would carry out the killing rather than humans, a move which aims to remove the possibility for human error.

As well as creating more humane conditions for the animals, the reduction of stress and careful treatment of the carcasses will lead to more tender meat with better conservation of vitamins, according to the farmers.

The farmers plan to use the small number of cows to supply quality meat for 600 families, through a subscription plan, as well as providing meat for local restaurants. A total of 30 families have already signed up, while others have left messages of support for the group on their fundraising website.

full story – the local

Why did the chicken cross the Atlantic? Because of Brexit

If Britain really is to make a success of Brexit, it will do so by scrapping the worst excesses of EU regulation.

Not those mythological prohibitions on the purchases of bendy bananas, but the much more tangible curbs on foods produced with modern scientific techniques. The kinds that have been enjoyed by our friends over the Atlantic for decades.

The US is the world’s second largest poultry exporter, and its veteran trade negotiators will already be sizing up the UK poultry market access as a target for trade talks. It is almost inevitable that one controversial US practice – the use of chlorine solutions to disinfect poultry carcasses – will become a crucial issue in post-Brexit trade talks with the US, symbolic of how flexible the UK government is willing to be in striking new deals

The EU banished imports of chickens disinfected with so-called “pathogen reduction treatments” in the 1990s, appealing to concerns about the potential side effects of ingesting chlorine byproducts on human health.

What may have once been a sensible concern has been relegated to pseudoscientific alarmism by the years of research conducted since. More than a decade ago, the EU’s own scientific advisers concluded that such rinses “would be of no safety concern”.

A person would have to eat around five per cent of their body weight in chicken (nearly three whole birds a day for the typical British man) to reach the safety limit, according to European Commission data. Drinking water poses a far greater risk, making up 99 per cent of the disinfection byproducts consumed in a typical daily diet.

The real opposition to the US food industry in the EU has always been from Germany and France, not Britain. When the EU’s member states resisted the European Commission’s own attempts to liberalise trade in poultry in 2008, the UK was the only EU member not to vote against relaxing the ban on chemically treated chicken.

The UK can afford to make compromises on the issue of chlorinated chicken. And it’s a price worth paying to show the rest of the world we are open for business.

read the full story – city a.m.

Peter Spence


Liam Fox downplays UK-US chlorinated chicken differences

Liam Fox has downplayed talk that a future US-UK trade deal after Brexit could be threatened by disagreements over chlorinated chicken imports.

The international trade secretary said the issue of whether the current UK ban on chlorine-washed poultry would be lifted was “a detail of the very end stage of one sector” of future talks.

The EU bans imports on health grounds but free market groups want a rethink.

Downing Street said any trade deal must work for both consumers and farmers.

Mr Fox is in Washington DC for two days of talks with US officials about the existing transatlantic trade relationship and how this will change once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Although the UK cannot seal a free trade deal of its own with the US until it leaves the EU, both sides have expressed a desire to make quick progress and to scope out some of the barriers to an expedited deal.

The EU currently bans imports of poultry meat which is rinsed in chlorine and it will be up to the UK to decide, after it leaves the EU, whether this ban stays in place.

Environmental campaigners have expressed concerns that the UK’s desire for a quick deal could pave the way for the ban to be lifted as well as a loosening of other restrictions on imports of unlabelled genetically modified (GM) foods and beef from cattle implanted with growth hormones.

Concerns about differing EU and US standards were among issues that resulted in the two sides failing to agree a comprehensive trade and investment partnership last year.

full story – bbc

Horsemeat scandal: Businessman found guilty

A BUSINESSMAN has been found guilty of being part of a near-£200,000 conspiracy to pass off 30 tonnes of horsemeat as beef, much of which went on to enter the food chain.

Andronicos Sideras, 55, one of the owners of meat manufacturer Dinos & Sons, mixed the meats together before it was sold on to other firms in a plot which deceived consumers and food processors.

The jury of five men and seven women at Inner London Crown Court took 10 hours and 17 minutes to deliver a majority guilty verdict following a four-week trial.

Ulrik Nielsen, 58, owner of FlexiFoods, and his “right-hand man”, Alex Beech, 44, had already pleaded guilty to their part in the plot.

The court heard how Danish-owned company FlexiFoods would buy horsemeat and beef from suppliers across Europe and have it delivered to Dinos in Tottenham, north London.

Labels and paperwork were fabricated to make the mixed meat appear like pure beef, before it was sold on to food manufacturers making products for a “vast range of well-known companies”, prosecutor Jonathan Polnay told the trial.

Sideras was released on bail ahead of sentencing alongside Nielsen, of Gentofte in Denmark, and Beech, from Sutton-on-Hull, on Monday at the same court.

full story – Express



UK wholesale meat prices soar

Brexit is set to push up the price of the British banger, as wholesale pork and beef prices soared over the last year as a result of the weak pound and a surge in export demand.

The cost of beef has rocketed to an all-time high – with prices up almost 40p per kg compared with July 2016 and an 11% increase year on year – according to an analysis by Beacon, a purchasing consortium which buys food for restaurants and hotels.

But while beef prices are set to soften in the longer term, the report predicts, the price of pork is set to remain at high levels.

The price of pork has risen by a third over the last year, and is currently 20% higher than in 2015. Imported pork commodity prices are also rising because of ongoing demand from China in the face of domestic shortages caused by flooding.

“The cost of British, Irish and imported beef has risen and continues to rise dramatically, with current prices at an all-time high,” said Paul Connelly, managing director of Beacon. “Prime beef is in huge demand from both the UK retail and food service sectors but also more critically from abroad.”

Beef prices would recover over the next 18 months, he predicted. “However, the same cannot be said for pork production, which looks likely to struggle to remain competitive against international exporters and adverse exchange rates – so your sausages may be set to stay pricey.”

full story – guardian

Rebecca Smithers