criminal gangs are behind much of this trade which is putting the health of the nation at risk

Dr Yunes' Letter to the EHJ October 2004

I have for years been trying to stamp out the illegal flow of meat entering London and I can tell you from personal experience that criminal gangs are behind much of this trade which is putting the health of the nation at risk.

Just last week there was a Dispatches investigation into the illegal meat trade on Channel 4 which showed the scale of the trade. Again, from personal experience, I know that these career criminals are not remotely put off their illegal business by the threat of prosecution under the Food Safety Act. I have been in court with some of these people and they have been setting up deliveries of unfit meat by mobile phone while facing prosecution under the Food Safety Act. Remember these people are making a great deal of money tax free and the fines are just a small cost to their business. This is why there is a very real need for a new offence.

Your article states that the Food Standards Agency is reluctant to push for a new offence or recommend increased sentences under the Food Safety Act. I suspect the reason the FSA is not pushing for a change is because it is unaware of the scale of the problem, something which I am made aware of every day during my work in the London boroughs.

The problem for the FSA is that local authorities are failing to let it know exactly how bad things are in specific boroughs. Local authorities don't want to admit to the FSA that they are failing to stop this trade. This is despite EHPs knowing who the main players are in their areas.

I am urging colleagues to make more effort to bring these criminal gangs to justice and also to put more pressure on the FSA to introduce a new offence. It is the only way we will be able to properly protect our communities.