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Beef from UK recalled in Cyprus (Updated)

More than two tons of beef imported from the UK has been recalled in Cyprus after it was banned by the European Union’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, but some of it has already been consumed, the veterinary services said on Friday.

The services announced that in addition to two tons of beef which were stored in the freezers of an importer in Cyprus 870 kilos have already been distributed to a well-known chain of bars and restaurants. The chain has been contacted and asked to immediately return the meat. The services declined to name the chain.

There is no risk of people falling sick from consuming the meat, Director of the veterinary services Christodoulos Pipis said, as no such cases in the UK, where people have eaten it, have been reported.

He also assured the public that no problems have been spotted in Cyprus so far.

“For sure a certain amount of this meat was also consumed in Cyprus, however, we have not reported an incident or any indications,” he said, adding that the problem was not that the meat in question was unfit for consumption, and that its recall was due to the non-observance of hygiene rules in the place where it was kept.

The problem became known on January 24 after details of an unannounced Food Standards’ Agency (FSA) inspection at meat supplier Russell Hume’s factories which uncovered serious non-compliances with food hygiene regulations emerged.

Details of the breaches of regulations have not yet been officially announced.

For now, Russell Hume’s factories have had to stop production and a temporary ban on products leaving its sites is in place.

In the UK, the large JD Wetherspoon pub chain and the restaurants of famous chef Jamie Oliver were among those forced to withdraw the meat that had been purchased by the company.

Oliver’s Nicosia branch, however, said that Jamie’s Italian Cyprus does not buy beef from Russell Hume and that there is no risk for consumer health. This, a company executive told the Cyprus News Agency, concerns the UK only.

“We have nothing to do with the (beef) provider in question and this does not concern Jamie’s Italian in Cyprus,” the executive said.

“In the last six months the FSA and FSS have faced two serious incidents involving major players in the meat sector. People rightly expect food businesses to keep to the rules, rules designed to keep consumers safe and to sustain public trust in food – and food businesses have a duty to follow the regulations,”, chairs of the FSA and Food Standards Scotland Heather Hancock and Ross Finnie told the Guardian newspaper in a joint statement.

Last October chicken suppliers 2 Sisters had to shut down factories and retrain personnel after an audit revealed they had violated several food regulations.

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