A church fundraiser has led to prosecution after blood splatter from pig carcasses was found on other food stored in the freezer of a Stanmore Road dairy.
The Faithful Daez dairy and its 51-year-old director and manager, Asa Lino Mika, have admitted charges in the Christchurch District Court of failing to have a risk management plan while storing pig meat that was intended for human consumption.
The Animal Products Act prosecution was brought by the Ministry of Primary Industries. The dairy and Mika were remanded for sentencing on May 11. No pre-sentence report was ordered by Judge Simon Menzies because fines are the only penalty allowed under the Act.
Prosecutor Grant Fletcher told the court that processing and sale of animal products outside the requirements and restrictions of the Act endangered human and animal health. Meat for human consumption had to documented so that it could be traced back to its farm of origin if there was a health or hygiene issue.
Issues that could arise were foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, and Listeria.
“Unregulated products have the potential to undermine the credibility of New Zealand’s food industry, as cases of foodborne illnesses are always publicised in local and international media,” he said.
In 2016, a Christchurch Samoan church decided to hold a fundraiser to purchase a marquee, by selling pork meals to church members and the public.
The church bought 19 pigs from a local piggery and asked two church members to pick up the pigs and slaughter them. They did this at one of their homes, and neither had the necessary authorisations and registrations.
The carcasses and other cuts were stored in the dairy’s freezer until they were made into meals.
Inspectors found the 19 carcasses, one pork head, and pork chops were in the freezer. The carcasses had bank cash bags with prices attached to some of the pig’s snouts with rope and wire.
“Blood splatter was present on other legitimately processed and supplied products stored in the dairy’s freezer,” said Mr Fletcher. A fertiliser bag outside the freezer had blood splatter on it.
“The blood splatter in the freezer is a very serious health risk presenting an opportunity for pathogens to be transferred to commercial food items,” he said.
The dairy did not have a risk management plan. Mika said she knew the men who processed the pigs. She knew the rules, standards, and specifications, and had the necessary invoices for other frozen meat and fish sold from the premises – but not for the pigs.
The pig products were seized and will be destroyed.
The dairy was able to sell manufactured pre-packaged, chilled, or frozen food to the public, but not animal products, and Mika had done a Food Hygiene Course in October 2016.