A Lancashire dairy has been banned from selling its cheese in Europe after EC officials found evidence of antibiotics, dyes and detergents in its products.
The commission took the action against Bowland Dairy on Friday after it found ‘serious breaches of EU food safety rules’.
The company was visited by officers from the European Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office in June where a raft of food safety and hygiene issues were discovered.
Commission officials said there was evidence the dairy used out-of-date milk and raw milk containing antibiotic residues or milk contaminated with substances such as detergents and dyes.
It also used mouldy and contaminated cheese, the EC said.
The EC asked the UK’s Food Standards Agency to act in June but the commission ruled it had not done enough.
The commission said: ‘A follow-up inspection in September found persistent non-compliance in the diary, while extensive discussions between the commission and the UK authorities revealed that they took no effective action to ensure that the dairy came into full compliance with EU hygiene and food safety laws.’
The UK abstained from voting when officials at a national food safety meeting moved to ban the cheese. The Commission is considering action against the UK for its lack of action on this issue.
The FSA said it had yet to see the Commission inspectors’ report from September so it could not support the move to ban exports.
It said: ‘In this case, there are genuine differences of views on the science behind testing for antibiotics in milk and these have not yet been resolved.’
Bowland Dairy said in a statement that it had been ‘the unfortunate victim of an ongoing dispute between the European Commission, UK authorities and the Food Standards Agency, on the interpretation of EU food safety regulations’.
The company said it refuted the Commission’s allegations and would be challenging the decision before the European Court.
Now the EC is planning an inspection of the entire UK dairy sector in November. The Commission promised further action if evidence of similar practices are found elsewhere in the UK.