The BBC reports that it has uncovered an extensive illegal meat industry in one of London’s busiest meat markets.
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Using undercover BBC employees, the news agency reports that several butchers in Ridley Road Market, in Dalston, East London have been selling bush meat to customers, an illegal practice in the United Kingdom. While the BBC noted that not all butchers in the market were selling illegal meat, the practice is widespread.
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The report states that many of the butchers are selling “smokies,” a West African delicacy made by charring sheep or goat with a blow torch. Two African food store have sold bush meat such as “grass cutter” or cane rats, according to the BBC.
When confronted with video footage of the illegal meat sales at their stores, the owners outright denied the accusations. Here are a few of the confrontations, as reported by BBC:
Confronted with BBC London’s evidence, Islam Halal Meat; Punjab Halal Meat and Fish and Dalston Butchers denied they were selling illegal meat.
The manager of Great Expectations, a food store which sold two Ghanaian rats to the undercover BBC researcher, said: “I don’t sell rats, I never sell rats, I don’t sell rats.
“I don’t have any rats, why you come to video me?”
The manager of Adom Trading, another shop that sold bush meat described as a Ghanaian “grass cutter” rat, also denied selling it.
“What you are saying is a lie, a 100% lie, I don’t sell rats.
“You are collapsing a business, do you know how much it costs us to pay the business rates?”
The UK’s Food Standards Agency says it is concerned that the illegal meat already sold may be contaminated and could make the buyers and others ill. Illegal meat or “bush meat” has been a persistent problem for UK authorities as smugglers regularly attempt to bring it into the county via airports and ferry terminals.
For video of the report, go here.
When the BBC asked Councillor Feryal Demirci, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Safer Neighbourhoods, to comment on the investigation, he had this to say:
“Hackney Council’s team of Environmental Health Officers make regular visits and inspections of over 1,000 businesses across the borough, including those on Ridley Road.
“Since 2009, we have only received a single complaint regarding the sale of illegal meat, which upon investigation was inconclusive.
“However, we take all complaints seriously and we will always investigate fully. Now that we have received some information from the BBC we will look into this and take the appropriate action.”
The BBC reports that the last time the market was investigated for illegal meat sales was in 2009.