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Devon illegal slaughterhouse closed

Katie Coyne08/03/2017 - 16:39

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EHOs found filthy conditions
EHOs found filthy conditions

A man involved in the running of an illegal slaughterhouse that did not adhere to even ‘basic’ household hygiene has been ordered to pay back £40,000 in profits.

Mid Devon District Council prosecuted Matthew Broom for the operation run at Little Esworthy Farm, Templeton, Devon. The slaughterhouse involved the illegal butcher of almost 4,000 animals over a five-year period from hundreds of farms. 

The court was shown photos illustrating its ‘filthy conditions’ and heard how there was dried blood on ‘every surface in the premises’ and had no hot water to wash with. Over a tonne of meat was seized and condemned as unfit for human consumption.

Mr Broom was found guilty at Exeter Crown Court for 16 offences under Food Hygiene Regulations and given an eight month sentence suspended for two years. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act he was ordered to pay back the £40,000 within three months or face five years in jail.

Assistant Judge Advocate General Large told him: ‘You were slaughtering and butchering animals in a highly unhygienic way which was likely to lead to the contamination of the meat. 

‘The walls of your chiller were filthy and there was dried blood on every surface in the premises. The cutting room was equipped but filthy and unhygienic.

‘Equipment was encrusted with meat, the block and surrounding areas were splattered with blood and there was no equipment or even hot water for you to wash your hands. It is clear from the expert report it was far below an acceptable standard and there was a risk to health.

‘This was not just a breach of the requirements but of basic hygiene practices known to any household let alone to someone with your expertise and training in butchery. You ran your business with complete disregard for hygiene or the risk to the public and you did so for considerable profit.’

Mr Broom was also ordered to carry out unpaid community work for 180 hours and pay £2,000 costs to Mid Devon District Council and was banned from managing any food business.

Mr Broom’s claim that he had no money, after gambling away almost £119,000 on horses, dogs and boxing, was rejected by the judge. Large amounts of cash withdrawals totalling £83580 had been removed from his bank account in 32 days and after 166 days £117,880 had been withdrawn after the Council initialed confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 at an earlier hearing.

Cllr Colin Slade, portfolio member for Wellbeing PDG said: ‘We welcome the sentencing yesterday and hope this acts as a major deterrent to those who think they can profit from cutting corners and jeopardising food safety.

Mid Devon does not tolerate food crime that endangers consumers and we will take every opportunity using Proceeds of Crime Act legislation to deprive criminals of their illegal gain.’

The operation was discovered by chance when a Trading Standards Officer carrying out animal movement checks on 5 November 2013. Environmental health officers were then called who carried out a detailed search of the farm and the operation was shut down. 

The search found a range of problem areas including 17 unstamped and unfit carcasses and a chest freezer full of cuts and processed meats.

It also found that the cutting room contained a large number of trimmed and butchered meat and accumulated meat waste. The floor was filthy and unhygienic with large amounts of animal waste piled under the heavily scored and corroded butchers block and was spilling out behind adjacent worktops.

The floor was littered with accumulated and ground-in food waste, the walls, worktop and floor were blood splattered and in a poor state of disrepair. A beef carcass was in the process of being butchered. 

Butchery equipment was covered in blood and animal hair, and was generally dirty and corroded. On the draining board a ‘sticking knife’, used to cut the carotid arteries, was covered in blood next to ‘skinning knives’.

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