Illegal Meat Slaughter WarningPublished Thursday, 19 December 2013
Ribble Valley Borough Council is warning anyone engaged in the illegal slaughter of animals at remote farms or the supply of illegal meat that they face fines, prison, or both.
In recent years, evidence has emerged of sheep being slaughtered for trade under poor and cruel conditions, which has serious animal welfare and hygiene implications.
More recently, there have been incidents of sheep rustling at farms in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and it is believed the stolen animals may be finding their way into the food chain through illegal routes.
James Russell, the council's environmental health manager, said: "It is unlawful to kill and supply meat other than from approved abattoirs operating to high standards of hygiene, otherwise the meat may be unsafe to eat and the animals have suffered needlessly.
"We are not sure of the scale of this illegal trade, but it is important that we enlist the help of residents, farms and businesses in stamping it out."
Animals must be checked by a vet before slaughter and meat inspected afterwards to certify it is fit to eat. The only way to ensure these conditions have been met and the meat fit for human consumption is to buy it from a reputable butcher or shop.
"Food businesses must purchase food from reputable suppliers and have documentation to prove that the meat has been sourced from legitimate suppliers," James Russell added.
Anyone involved in the illegal slaughter of animals and food business operators who fail to ensure that meat comes from a legitimate source face fines of up to £5,000 in a magistrates' court, or up to two years in prison, or both, in a crown court.
Ribble Valley residents with information about the illegal slaughter of animals, or who see suspicious activity in remote areas, are asked to contact Ribble Valley Borough Council's environmental health team in confidence on 01200 414468.