Health officials have seized illegally imported dried and frozen meat on open sale at supermarkets in Newcastle upon Tyne's Chinatown, seven miles from the source of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.
As Maff officials continue to investigate the possibility that imported meat possibly from the Far East may have been fed to pigs at the farm to which the outbreak has been traced at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, more than 500 packets of food, originating in the Far East, were seized by the city council's health officers.
Beef products and pork spring rolls were removed from two stores, while frozen pork won tons were taken from another. Britain has banned the import of raw and most cooked meats from China and other countries, mainly Asia and Africa, where the disease has been endemic for years.
Tony Chu, chairman of the North East Chinese Association, said yesterday: "Many Chinese supermarkets stock snack food products like this but the owners should be aware of what is legal and what is not."
The meat is understood to have been transported to the North-east from Nottingham, where public health officers were investigating its source yesterday. Doug Fox of Newcastle City Council's public health department said his staff were also attempting to trace how it got into the country.
Those responsible for the meat's emergence in the North-east will incur the wrath of Tony Chu and others who were indignant last week when it was suggested that Chinese resturants may have been played a part in foot-and-mouth's spread.
Mr Chu, proprietor of His Hapiness restaurant, said it was "difficult to believe" the Chinese community might have played a part but insisted that anyone who was selling meat known to have been smuggled was "a disgrace".
Maff and Northumberland County Council tradings standards department, which are running a criminal investigation into the source of the outbreak, have not confirmed that meat that has found its way into Chinese restaurants is a cause. But Chinese restaurants across the country have reported a downturn in trade of as much as 40 per cent.Reuse content