After a raid on two properties in South Auckland, (MPI) investigators issued warrants after they uncovered what they believe to be an illegal poultry operation.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) executed search warrants at two premises in Flat Bush after a long-running investigation codenamed ‘Operation Ginger’.
Investigators believe the ring involved the illegal killing and processing of poultry and eggs on a commercial scale and they are speaking with several individuals involved with the properties.
Items seized during the raid (which happened 30 April), included 149 processed chickens, more than 700 eggs, commercial incubators and processing equipment, as well as documentation identifying sales and a large amount of cash.
“The sale of animal products for human or animal consumption is subject to strict rules to ensure animals are slaughtered humanely and that the resulting meat product is safe for human consumption”, MPI director of compliance, Dean Baigent, said.
As a result of the operation, the ministry says it will be investigating restaurants and outlets believed to be involved in the purchase and on-sale of illegal poultry to the public. It will also be investigating and inspecting other suspected premises believed to be involved in the illegal poultry processing ring. Individuals found guilty of offences under the Animal Products Act 1999 face up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000, (US$102,000).
Baigent said this sort of illegal activity undermines legitimate operators who follow the rules. “Rogue operators have a complete disregard for New Zealand’s hygiene regulations, human safety and animal welfare requirements, not to mention the increased threat of food borne illness inherent in illegal processing,” he said.
The Poultry Industry Association is pleased to see MPI taking the front foot on the issue, with executive director Michael Brooks saying they ensure the integrity of the New Zealand food system. “Chicken processing is subject to strict regulation as part of our on-going efforts to ensure the best quality product for our consumers,” he said.