A team of MPI investigators swooped on a local man from the small town of Turangi on Tuesday 9 August for allegedly selling large amounts of red meat from an unregulated site. MPI officials used a search warrant to gain access to the property and conducted a thorough investigation.
A statement from MPI investigators said the search came after a six-month probe, which involved undercover government officials buying “considerable quantities” of pork, venison and sheep meat from the unnamed individual.
Gary Orr, the MPI compliance operations manager, said the sale of unregulated meat posed “a very real risk to consumer health” as there were no industry-recognised safety controls in place.
Fears of contamination
“Food of animal origin presents one of the foremost risks to the health and well-being of humans because animals can unwittingly transfer diseases and chemical residues to humans and other animals,” he said.
Orr again reiterated the “risk” of consumers eating unregulated meat and said such reckless activity meant there was no way people could know if the required hygiene and control measures had been carried out during processing of the animal.
The man in question is due to be interviewed by MPI investigators regarding the alleged illegal sale of meat. MPI officers have not yet disclosed if a charge enshrined by the Animal Products Act will be laid against the accused.
Under part 10 of New Zealand’s Animal Products Act 1999, section 126 stipulates that a person commits an offence if they fail to comply with a risk management programme. Such an offence is punishable by a fine of up to $300,000 or, in extreme cases, up to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $100,000.
The MPI is a government-funded body responsible for overseeing and regulating agriculture, fishing, food, animal welfare, biosecurity and forestry in New Zealand.