An Auckland company was sentenced in the Manukau District Court today for adding sulphites to beef mince.
Food manufacturer and wholesalers Machi, operated by Diversity Foods Limited, was charged under the Food Act 2014 and fined NZD$10,000.
Sulphites and sulphur dioxide are food additives not permitted to be added to raw meat. Asthma sufferers, in particular, have a higher risk of adverse reaction to sulphite and sulphur dioxide.
Over the period in which offending occurred, a total weight of 23,445kg beef steak meat was sold with an estimated total value of NZD$163,000.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) team manager food compliance services group Jenny Bishop says people, many of whom also have asthma, may react to sulphites with allergy-like symptoms.
“The prosecution is a reminder of the need for food businesses to ensure their products are safe and suitable for consumption.
“The public can have confidence that MPI, as the regulator, will investigate when it has evidence of offending and take appropriate action.”
Diversity Foods Limited pleaded guilty to 2 charges related to offences which occurred between 30 September 2017 and 26 September 2018.
The offending was detected during an evaluation of the Machi’s Food Control Plan. A bottle of Dunninghams’ Liquid Preservative was discovered. The label on the bottle clearly says ‘this product is to be used with fresh sausages only and not raw meat’.
Sulphites can slow down meat spoilage, extend shelf life, and keep meat looking fresh.
On 28 September 2018, a food compliance officer investigated the business and sampled 2 batches of fresh steak mince which were sent for testing for the presence of sulphur dioxide.
"Consumers expect that the food they buy is safe. We encourage anyone who has information about unsafe food to contact our food safety helpline – freephone 0800 00 83 33,” said Ms Bishop.