Allegations of milk smuggling are being investigated by the FSA in Northern Ireland, alongside the Northern Irish Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and officials in the Republic.
It comes after the arrest of a 35-year-old male “on suspicion for possession of [an] article for use in fraud, two counts of assault on police and three counts of resisting arrest” by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on Thursday 31 October in the Meigh area of Newry, Co Armagh.
The FSA has subsequently issued a public warning to farmers that illegal smuggling could potentially introduce contaminants into the supply chain.
“Illegal milk movements threaten the safety and traceability of milk and milk products processed in Northern Ireland,” Maria Jennings, director of the FSA in Northern Ireland, said this week.
Any information or evidence brought to the attention of the FSA or DARD would be fully investigated and where evidence of malpractice was found, enforcement action would be taken against those involved, she added.
The warning follows the issue of a joint statement by Dairy UK and the Ulster Farmers’ Union last Friday, condemning the practice of milk smuggling.
The actions of a few individuals were putting the livelihood of all dairy farmers in Northern Ireland at risk, warned Dr Mike Johnston, Northern Ireland director of Dairy UK, in the statement.
“Facilitating the smuggling of milk into Northern Ireland jeopardises our dairy product exports, as well as the trust that consumers have in the integrity of our products”
Dr Mike Johnston
“Facilitating the smuggling of milk into Northern Ireland jeopardises our dairy product exports, as well as the trust that consumers have in the integrity of our products.”
His views were echoed by the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
“I would strongly discourage anyone from getting involved in these illegal activities and would go further and ask everyone to be vigilant and to alert the authorities immediately of any suspicious activity happening in your area,” added UFU President Harry Sinclair.
The male who was arrested on 31 October was subsequently released on police bail pending further enquiries, the PSNI said.