Suspected milk fraud investigation at Belleek farm

March 31, 2014

A multi-agency investigation into the suspected illegal movement of milk across the border is underway after a milk tanker was seized from a farm close to the village of Belleek on Friday.

A lorry filled with plastic tanks was also examined at the farm.

The alleged 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.

Usually if a farmer south of the border produces more milk than he is allowed in his quota he has to pay a levy.  Farmers are not allowed to move milk across international borders without a special permit and a licence is also needed to move milk anywhere from a farm.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is leading the probe, along with police, customs and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).

Maria Jennings, director of the FSA in Northern Ireland, moved to allay consumer concern: “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,” she added.