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Sept 18 - Sept 25 2004 ~ Stark revelations about the scale of meat crime within Britain's food chain were finally aired last night


The Dirty Meat Scandal
TX:  Channel 4: Monday 20th September, 8pm 2004
 
Dispatches goes undercover in the meat trade and finds that the system created
to protect the public from diseased and unfit meat in the wake of scandals like
BSE and E-Coli is flawed at every level. 

Dispatches uncovers dirty, diseased and illegal cuts of meat being sold by a
wholesaler who supplies shops and restaurants in London; a distinguished meat
industry figure willing to issue essential food handling qualifications to
people who have never been trained to do so; the same man, a leading industry
consultant, advising clients to defraud Government agencies set up to modernise
the food trade; scandal in the system meant to train meat industry staff -
hundreds of food workers were issued with qualifications of dubious value.

When BSE and other outbreaks brought the British meat industry into disrepute,
the Government promised that all meat would be fully traceable from the farm
gate to the plate. The food industry also promised to raise its game and
improve professional standards. Dispatches exposes the ways that this system of
regulation isn't working.

The programme investigates a shadowy meat trader who repeatedly sells our
undercover team diseased, emaciated and unfit meat from the back of a large
truck. The Dispatches team joined a queue of his customers which included high-
street butchers. The meat Dispatches bought was infected with diseases like
tapeworm and pleurisy. Some of it had abscesses. A leading expert, who examined
the meat, tells Dispatches that some of it 'is not fit to feed a dog'. It's
also illegal - much of it without the tell-tale health stamps which the law
says must accompany all meat designed for the dining table.

The target of our investigations is well known to the authorities, and was
under investigation by police and environmental health officers from several
areas, yet a series of prosecutions against him collapsed. In August,
Wandsworth Council in London finally obtained convictions on 9 hygiene offences
for keeping a dirty butcher's shop. 

An Environmental Health officer tell Dispatches they are losing the battle to
stop unfit meat entering food chain and he calls for the government to give
them more resources and bring in new legislation.

The programme also investigates a well-connected industry consultant, who
admits to defrauding many thousands of pounds in government grants, meant to
improve hygiene and safety standards in the industry. He advises our undercover
reporter to claim for bogus fees and says that he can obtain falsely inflated
invoices from industry suppliers to fool the authorities.

The consultant also breaks other key safeguards in the industry - giving
industry workers important hygiene qualifications without carrying out the
proper training. He was able to do this even after his behaviour had come to
the attention of the authorities. 

The two men's stories highlight how the system of regulation in the meat
industry is not working from the bottom to the top. The programme highlights
the ways that the consumer is at risk from diseased meat entering the human
food chain.     

Exec Prod: Steve Boulton
Prod/Dir: Tom Anstiss
Prod co: Steve Boulton Productions
Comm ed: Kevin Sutcliffe
Press Contact: Gavin Dawson: 020 7306 8165/gdawson@channel4.co.uk
 

Picture Publicity: Peter Dadds  020 7306 8761/pdadds@channel4.co.uk