Cross-border milk fraud investigated at Belleek, south Armagh

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investigating a case of suspected milk fraud in south Armagh.

A milk tanker has been removed from a farm just outside the village of Belleek.

Officials have also examined a lorry filled with plastic tanks.

The fraud involves Republic of Ireland farmers, who have exceeded their EU quota of milk production, selling their excess to farmers in Northern Ireland who are under their quota.

They in turn pass it off as their own produce paying about 11 pence a litre, and selling it on for about 30 pence a litre.

Usually if a farmer south of the border produces more milk than he is allowed in his quota he has to pay a levy.

Health risk

Farmers are not allowed to move milk across international borders without a special permit.

A licence is also needed to move milk anywhere from a farm.

This fraud means there is no traceability and there is a potential public health risk.

There are tax implications as well, and officers from HM Revenue and Customs are also thought to be involved in the investigation, along with the police and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Maria Jennings, director of the FSA in Northern Ireland, said: "Through this multi-agency investigation, we are working together to protect the integrity of the food chain.

"Consumers should not be concerned as all milk undergoes routine tests in NI processing establishments. It is then pasteurised, significantly reducing any risk to human health.

"We are unable to comment further at this time as this is a live investigation."

More Northern Ireland stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SleepSleep on it

    Is it possible to strengthen your brain's synapses while you slumber?

Programmes

  • (File photo) Usain BoltClick Watch

    Challenging the world's fastest man to a virtual race over 40m – can you keep up?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.