The Ministry for Primary Industries has intercepted a large-scale illegal home kill operation in the greater Auckland region.
MPI Northern region investigations Manager, Simon Anderson, says compliance officers yesterday executed six search warrants at rural and urban addresses in the west and south of the city.
"Officers seized a refrigerated container, a truck, unregulated meat, and a large amount of food processing equipment.
"This was a large-scale, sophisticated operation involving more than 100 customers.
"A number of people are now being spoken to as a result of our investigation."
Mr Anderson says members of the public are urged to source their meat from regulated outlets like butcheries, supermarkets, and other meat sellers.
"This is particularly the case in the lead up to Christmas where illegal home kill operations are, traditionally, more prevalent.
"Meat being sold directly from a farm to the public is a strong indicator of unlicensed activity.
"If whole beasts are being sold then the carcass must be stamped by an abattoir. Processed meat sold in trays in shops should be labelled.
"Any suspicious or unlicensed meat sellers should be reported. If we receive information about these kind of operations we will shut them down and prosecute the people making money from selling potentially substandard product.
"There’s a very serious public health component to our interest in ensuring people comply with the law. We have a duty to protect the public from the threat of various food borne illnesses associated with illegal home kill.
"Most people have no problem complying but a few do flout the law.
"The fines are substantial for those convicted and serious offenders risk custodial sentences. Individuals involved in illegal activity face a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $100,000 – it’s just not worth it."
The public can report any suspicious activity to MPI’s Food safety helpline: 0800 00 83 33.