Church fundraiser leads to $6750 fines

A church involved in a pork-meal fundraiser which has led to the prosecution of a dairy and its owner has made no offer to help with the legal bills nor the fine.

Instead, the dairy owner – her business and her family are already struggling financially – faces paying off the $6750 total fines at a rate of $50 a week.

The Faithful Daez dairy in Stanmore Road and its 51-year-old director and manager, Asa Lino Mika, 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.

They had been prosecuted under the Animal Products Act, and pleaded guilty in March.

Defence counsel Grant Tyrrell said Mika had felt she was under some pressure to assist with the fundraiser. The church had not followed through with any support for the legal advice she needed, nor the fines that were likely to be imposed.

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 when Mika pleaded guilty in March. 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.

Judge Raoul Neave said the prosecution was brought because of the potential for contamination, but there was no evidence that any harm had occurred in this case.

Judge Neave reduced the fine because of Mika’s guilty plea and her financial situation. Her family was struggling because of the death of her husband earlier this year. She had no previous convictions.

He also noted that the church had not offered any help with the court action, having got Mika into this situation.

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