NSW butchers fined for illegal chemicals found in meat

June 25, 2015

Two Sydney butchers have been hit with a combined total of more than AUD $21,000 in fines and extra costs after being prosecuted for manufacturing meat products that were found to contain illegal amounts of sulphur dioxide.

The first case involved a Sydney butcher who was fined AUD $12,950 by the NSW Food Authority and forced to pay AUD $3,870 in additional costs. The butcher was prosecuted after the NSW Food Authority found sulphur dioxide present in minced beef, which is illegal, and also excess levels of the chemical in sausages, which are the only meat products allowed to have certain amounts.

The second Sydney butcher was prosecuted for the same offence, fined AUD $2,500 and ordered to pay AUD $2,385 in additional costs.

How could sulphur dioxide affect me?

Sulphur dioxide is often added to raw meat as a preservative and to help maintain the colour of the meat. Although the chemical is permitted in many different types of food, the regulations surrounding its presence in meat is tightly monitored.

If consumed, sulphur dioxide could cause breathing and respiratory difficulties, particularly in those vulnerable to them – such as children, the elderly and asthmatics.

Regular testing for sulphur dioxide

The NSW Food Authority routinely carries out tests on raw meat products for traces of sulphur dioxide and also sodium and potassium sulphites, which are also permitted to be added to raw sausages if in quantities under 500 milligram/per kilogram or meat.

‘The Authority monitors compliance with these provisions and any non-compliance will result in enforcement action without further warning,’ warns the NSW Food Authority website.