Condemned turkey meat did not enter food chain, claims Newport supplier

MORE than 7,000 tonnes of condemned turkey meat from a Newport supplier did not enter shops or the food chain, the company's boss has said.

At the weekend the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advised customers who bought turkey butterflies from Severnside Provisions Ltd not to eat the product.

A press release suggested that 12 tonnes of turkey meat, processed at Severnside's Newport premises, were supplied to independent butchers and catering outlets throughout South and Mid Wales, South West and South Central England.

But Severnside managing director Anthony O'Sullivan said the food never left the premises, did not enter shops and was condemned because it was in a part of the warehouse not covered by a licence.

Mr O'Sullivan said that although 7,500 tonnes of turkey meat - which was imported from Europe for the Christmas rush - was condemned after being stored in the wrong part of their warehouse, the FSA actually seized eight tonnes of produce from Severnside.

The FSA did point out that there was "no evidence at present of any specific risk to public health from consuming this product" but said it is illegal to supply meat from unapproved premises.

Now the family business, which employs 18 people and specialises in bacon and gammon, stands to lose in excess of £50,000, said Mr O'Sullivan.

"This is a regular-sized order for this time of year," he said. "We have some temporary staff and this was stored in the wrong area. None of the meat has gone to customers at all."

The company does not supplier major national chains, only local butchers, who have all been supportive, he said.

"We have replaced all the affected meat and customers have not received any affected meat," said Mr O'Sullivan. "We have never had an issue before. We feel it's been blown out of all proportion. If there was a danger we would have been the first to recall everything.

"It is a large sum at this time of year and it's in danger of putting 17 or 18 people out of work. I would personally put money back into the business. I'm there to protect my staff. Last night no one slept fearing the backlash, but we've had no backlash."

In its press release the FSA said Severnside Provisions Ltd is a premises approved for processing bacon, but the company has been processing turkeys in conditions that do not meet the required hygiene standards for food production.

"Investigations by the local authority are ongoing as to the circumstances of how this meat was processed," said the release.

"Local authorities have been asked to ensure that this product is withdrawn from sale and destroyed."

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