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Aberdeen City Council investigation leads to major fish seizure

07/11/12

A sheriff has ordered the disposal of more than 200 tonnes of fish following a major investigation led by Aberdeen City Council.

It follows a complaint received by local authority Environmental Health officers about fish being illegally exported.

This led to a major investigation which resulted in the detention and seizure of approximately 207 tonnes of frozen fish, predominately destined for Russia.

On Tuesday [06 November] a sheriff at Aberdeen Sheriff Court granted Aberdeen City Council a Condemnation Order, confirming that the seized fish failed to comply with food safety requirements and that it be destroyed or disposed of as to prevent it being used for human consumption.

The fish, mainly salmon and salmon by-product, will now be disposed of to ensure it does not enter the human food chain.

Aberdeen City Council Environmental Health Commercial Team Leader, Ivor Churcher said: "Any establishment processing fishery products is required to be officially approved by the local authority which issues a unique identification mark. This identification mark enables products to be traced back to the original producer.

"During our investigation, our Environmental Health officers discovered large quantities of unmarked product along with product with an identification mark from a previously approved premises, which had ceased processing.

"These frozen fishery products were predominantly destined for export to Russia, which offers extensive business opportunities to food business operators.

"The regime for exporting food product to Russia is strictly controlled and subject to approval of the processing establishment by Scottish Government in addition to the approval issued by the local authority.

"Officers established that the approved identification mark was continuing to be used to export product to Russia although the approval did no longer exist."

Mr Churcher added: "This was an extremely complex investigation and made use of extensive staffing resources and expertise.Credit must be given to the professional and meticulous manner in which our dedicated officers approached the initial complaint and followed through to the conclusion of the investigation."

Councillor Neil Cooney, convener of Aberdeen City Council's Housing and Environment Committee, added: "As a council we have a duty to ensure that all items of food intended for sale for human consumption, which are produced, stored, and distributed, handled or consumed within the city are without risk to the health or safety of the consumer, and are satisfactory as to their nature, substance and quality.

"I believe this is one of the largest investigations of its kind in Scotland and I commend all of our officers who saw it through to a successful conclusion."