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MPI Swoops on Suspected Illegal Poultry Operation

02 May 2013

NEW ZEALAND - Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) Investigators have executed search warrants at two premises in the Flat Bush area in Manukau, Auckland believed to be involved in an illegal poultry operation.

The properties were identified as being used by a ring involved in the illegal killing and processing of poultry and eggs on a commercial scale, in breach of the Animal Products Act 1999.

MPI has been investigating the illegal processing and sale of poultry products in the Manukau area for several months under an operation codenamed ‘Operation Ginger’. Investigators are speaking with several individuals involved with the properties and a number of items of interest have been seized.

Items seized from the properties during the 30 April raid include 149 processed chickens, more than 700 eggs, commercial incubators and processing equipment, documentation identifying sales and a large amount of cash. These items will be used to assist MPI investigators with any further inquiries.

As a result of ‘Operation Ginger’, MPI will be investigating restaurants and outlets believed to be involved in the purchase and on-sale of illegal poultry to the public. Further investigations and inspections will also take place with other suspected premises believed to be involved with the illegal poultry processing ring.

Individuals found guilty of such offences under the Animal Products Act 1999 face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

“The sale of animal products for human or animal consumption is subject to strict rules to ensure animals are slaughtered humanely and that the resulting meat product is safe for human consumption”, says MPI Director of Compliance Dean Baigent.

Michael Brooks, Executive Director of the Poultry industry Association of New Zealand (PIANZ), agrees, “We are very pleased to see MPI taking the front foot in undertaking operations such as this, as they ensure the integrity of the New Zealand food system. Chicken processing is subject to strict regulation as part of our ongoing efforts to ensure the best quality product for our consumers.”

“This sort of illegal activity undermines the legitimate operators out there who follow the rules. Rogue operators have a complete disregard for New Zealand’s hygiene regulations, human safety and animal welfare requirements, not to mention the increased threat of food borne illness inherent in illegal processing,” says Mr Baigent.

“MPI takes a hard line against anyone found to be illegally processing and selling animal products for commercial gain outside of a Risk Management Programme (RMP).”

People who know anything about the unregulated killing and sale of meat in New Zealand are encouraged to confidentially ring 0800 693 721.

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