Tainted Auckland Butchers Named
After an Official Information Act request 16 Auckland meat retailers fined for using unsafe preservatives in raw meat have been named by the MPI. Fleur Revell from public relations company Impact PR says the next steps for these businesses will be crucial.
As an immediate step they need to reassure their customers that this practice has stopped and then seek to rebuild their credibility through greater transparency.
This should involve seeking advice from the MPI (Ministry for Primary Industry) on best practice and show their willingness to work with food safety authorities to deliver only the best quality product to their customers.
Customers need to feel reassured that the working space and supply lines are decontaminated and that the butchers are taking the findings seriously and are committed to providing safe food for these consumers and their families.
A further step towards reassuring customers would to request another independent check (following a complete revision of their processes) and proactively communicate this to their customers both instore and through their database.
The bigger question is how widespread is this practice and what does it mean for the industry as a whole? How will other butchers reassure us that this is not standard meat industry practice?
The fines of $350-$4500 will pale in significance to the damage to their businesses and to the greater industry as a whole.
According to the Fairfax article in media today more than a dozen butchers in the Auckland area were fined for using unsafe preserving additives in their raw meat.
The Ministry for Primary Industries prosecuted a number of wholesalers, retailers and company directors for using sulphites and sulphur dioxide in their products.
These additives are not allowed in raw meat, and can cause “serious reactions” in people who are sensitive to them, the ministry said.
According to the Ministry, “foods containing sulphur dioxide/sulphites can provoke asthma attacks, severe allergic reactions or gastric irritation”.
The article goes on to say that the practice is usually used as a means of preserving meat but is only allowed in certain products, such as sausages, and there are strict maximum-levels that are permitted.