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Butchers prosecuted for illegal sulphur dioxide in meat products

Beef Central, June 23, 2015

A Sydney butcher was recently prosecuted and fined $12,950 by the NSW Food Authority and ordered to pay an additional $3,870 in costs for breaches of the Food Standards Code relating to the prohibited use of sulphur dioxide (SO2) in beef mince, and at levels exceeding prescribed limits in sausages.

In a separate case, another Sydney butcher was also recently prosecuted and fined $2,500 and ordered to pay an additional $2,385 in costs to the Food Authority for committing the same offence.

The charges were brought under Section 21(2) of the Food Act 2003: ‘Sell food that did not comply with a requirement of the Food Standards Code’.

Specifically, Standard 1.3.1 (food additives).

The offences related to sulphur dioxide contained in a range of sausages and budget beef mince being offered for sale across five retail stores in 2014.

The breaches were detected during routine testing of butcher shops for the presence of sulphur dioxide by the Food Authority. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is a chemical used as a preservative and colour fixative in some foods.

It is permitted in controlled doses in certain products such as sausages, but is not permitted at all in raw meat cuts or minced meat.

Some people, particularly asthmatics, are sensitive to sulphur dioxide. When ingested it may trigger typical asthma symptoms.

Due to this, its use in foods is strictly controlled by the Food Standards Code.

The Food Authority will continue to check for, and take enforcement action against, licensed businesses that illegally add preservatives to meat products where they are not permitted.

Source: NSW Food Authority. Further details check the Food Authority website

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