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Irish company fined for serious safety breaches

By Rory Harrington , 23-Nov-2009

An Irish seafood company has be ordered to almost €55,000 after admitting flouting 10 safety standards that led to 219 reported food poisoning cases in France and contaminated product being shipped worldwide.

Bantry Bay Seafoods, which is based in Cork but also has operations in France and the United States, pleaded guilty at Bandon District Court to a raft of breaches relating to the harvesting, processing and distribution of contaminated mussels between July 2007 and March 2008. The seafood was exported to France, Britain, Italy, the USA, Latvia and Romania.

Guilty

Judge Leo Malone imposed fines on the firm totalling €4,700 and awarded €50,000 in costs to Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) which said it had mounted one of its largest ever investigations into the matter. The body said it was satisfied with the outcome of the case.

Bantry Bay managing director Paul Connolly was also found to have failed to supply customer lists to the authorities. The judge said the charge would be struck out of if made a €1,500 to the charity Cork Cancer Research.

The company pleaded guilty to a raft of offences including placing unsafe food on the market, failing to withdraw and recall unsafe food from the market and obstructing the investigation. It also admitted using unsuitable water in food production and mussels on the market that contravened biotoxin safety standards with levels of azaspiracids (AZA) present at higher than acceptable levels.

Welcoming the ruling, the SFPA said: “The outcome of the case was a positive result for consumers of Irish seafood; seafood producers and consumers can be assured that unscrupulous operators will not undermine the good reputation of Irish seafood in the marketplace.”