'Don't buy cheap meat in suspicious circumstances' say police as illegal sheep slaughter continues in Northamptonshire

Northamptonshire Police and Trading Standards colleagues are distributing advice leaflets to food outlets and shoppers as an investigation into illegal sheep butchery in Northamptonshire continues.

More than 100 sheep have been slaughtered illegally in Northamptonshire since March.

An estimated 100 sheep have been illegally butchered in Northamptonshire since March.

An estimated 100 sheep have been illegally butchered in Northamptonshire since March.

It has led to the creation of Operation Stock ti investigate the illegal butchery of sheep and lambs across the county this month.

Now, Northamptonshire Police is advising people from buying cheap meat in suspicious circumstances in a bid to stop the stolen meat entering the food chain.

Anyone with information about the sale of meat in suspicious circumstances, or the incidents of illegal butchery, is asked to call Northamptonshire Police on 101, or 999 if a crime is in progress, quoting Operation Stock.

Why illegal butchery of animals raises concerns:

Police have stepped up patrols since the spate of attacks on sheep in Northamptonshire.

Police have stepped up patrols since the spate of attacks on sheep in Northamptonshire.

- Animal welfare – being slaughtered in the field outside of an approved slaughterhouse means that welfare in relation to handling and stunning is clearly ignored

- The person killing the animals is highly unlikely to be a licensed slaughter man

- There are processes and procedures followed in a slaughterhouse to ensure that animals are cleaned before they are slaughtered and bacteria such as salmonella or E. Coli do not contaminate the meat

- The controls for preventing the meat from becoming contaminated by specified risk material e.g. brain or spleen, banned after the CJD outbreak will not have been followed,

- The animals will have been slaughtered without confirmation of the food chain status – this means they may have received medical treatment and be within a drug withdrawal period when slaughtered

- The meat will not have undergone a meat hygiene inspection and so the animals may have had undetected illnesses when they were killed

- The meat will not be labelled or traceable as is required

Contact Trading Standards via the Citizens’ Advice consumer helpline, open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm on 03454 04 05 06, or online at www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer