Authorities have seized some 800 kg of meat products from the market ahead of the coming Easter, though not for health reasons, the agriculture minister said on Thursday.

Maria Panayiotou told reporters that, as part of routine checks for the Easter holiday, the veterinary services impounded 800 kg of meat from across the entire production chain.

This was not for health-related issues, but mostly for labeling issues,” she said.

The minister explained that the seizures had to do with illegitimate market practices.

On fruits and vegetables, meanwhile, no issues came up during inspections.

Asked whether there’s a shortage in lamb and kids – a staple during Easter in Cyprus – Panayiotou said that there exist adequate supplies in the market.

On meat prices, and whether they’re higher than last year, the minister said it appears some products have seen a decrease in supermarkets.

She recalled that, in a bid to ease the high cost of living, the government has implemented zero VAT on meat and vegetables.

“The most important thing for us [the government] is to ensure that consumers have options,” she offered.

But speaking to the Cyprus Mail later in the day, the head of the butchers association said meat prices are definitely up compared to last year.

According to Costas Livadiotis, lamb and kid meat is 10 per cent more expensive, while pork is up by about 2 per cent. Meantime chicken prices have actually dropped by about 3 to 4 per cent.

“And this is without VAT,” Livadiotis told us. “Imagine if we did have VAT.”

Asked about the 800 kg of meat seized, Livadiotis said this probably came from unlicensed farming units.

In any case, he added, it’s a negligible amount – meat consumption during the Easter holiday typically comes to 800,000 kg.

Some 40,000 animals are slaughtered every Easter.