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Stock Food Cheese Sold For Human Consumption

Auckland Healthcare and the Ministry of Health and last week succesfully prosecuted an Auckland man, Barry Munn, for selling cheese to retailers which was only fit for stockfood.

Barry Munn pleaded guilty to 14 charges under the Food Act and associated regulations in the Otahuhu District Court on 30 July 1999. He was fined $7900 and has to pay court and legal costs of $2120.

Auckland Healthcare spokesperson, Kathy Pritchard, says the charges resulted from Munn, trading as the Budget Cheese Company, and selling grated cheese to retailers when it was only fit for stock food. The retailers were mainly bakeries in Auckland region.

Another person has pleaded not guilty to similar charges and has a pre-trial conference set down for September 1999.

The investigation was initiated when a distributor asked the Grated Cheese Company how it was possible for someone to wholesale cheese for $3 per kilogram, including GST, when the wholesale market price was between $4.10 and $4.70 per kilogram.

As a result of this, the Grated Cheese Company hired a private investigator to follow Munn on his cheese delivery route.

A complaint was then lodged with the Auckland Healthcare, Public Health Protection Service.

Further inquries conducted by Auckland Healthcare, with assistance from the Ministry of Health, found that the cheese was grated in a butchery, where there was a high possibility of further contamination.

On 23 April 1998 the Police and Health Officers searched the private residence of Munn, in Pakuranga. Several bags of cheese were found in the garage freezer and in the back of Munn s vehicle.

Health Protection Officers found that the garage was untidy, dirty and dusty, the freezer was mouldy and the car was unclean. There was also a fishing tackle box near where the cheese was found in the car. The premises was not registered as a food premises, says Ministry of health investigator, Steve Anthony.

In sentencing Judge Treston noted that there was a need for deterrence, that there were public interest and food safety issues involved and that given that there were 10 retailers involved there had to be a totality to the sentence.


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