Latvian Food and Veterinary Service has uncovered a suspicious scheme involving a Latvian company that sold dangerous animal by-products that are not allowed to be used in food as less dangerous 3rd category by-products in third countries without presenting them to customs services, which is strictly prohibited.
Animal by-products of the lowest category, such as animal brains, are strictly prohibited from being used in food products, specifically animal feed production. This is because there is a high risk of spread of infectious diseases, including spongiform encephalopathy. 3rd category animal by-products are allowed to be used in bone dust and processed protein production, which is safe to be used in animal feed production.
At the end of 2015, a report appeared in the TRACE system, which supervises the transport of animal by-products in the European Union, that a company in Latvia had received 25 cargoes containing 3rd category animal by-products from Germany with a total of 600 tons of processed protein.
In accordance with EU regulations, FVS went to inspect the company’s warehouse to make sure the cargo was still there and to check the compliance of labels and documents with TRACE system.
During the inspection, FVS discovered that none of the 25 allegedly received cargoes were in the warehouse. An administrative case was launched. As part of the case, the company’s representatives who came to FVS to provide explanations said all cargoes had already been sent to Bulgaria and Romania without showing them to FVS. In addition, according to documents provided to FVS, another 144 cargoes (3,600 tons) of animal by-products from Germany, Poland, Belgium and France had been previously sent to other countries in a similar way. According to those documents, prior to being sent to their target destination, cargoes were being sent to Lithuania. Among carriers are also multiple Polish companies, as reported by FVS.
After sending a request to the Food Fraud Network, FVS received information from monitoring services of countries part of this network that producer companies mentioned by the aforementioned Latvian company were never working with it to begin with. On top of that, countries stated in documents as receivers of the aforementioned dangerous cargoes never received them. The documents themselves were forged as well.
Information acquired during the inspection shows – it is likely that cargoes were never in Latvia to begin with. However, it is possible that those cargoes contained not 3rd category, by even lower category animal by-products, which are not allowed to be used in the European Union or export to other countries. Also, considering the economically illogical cargo carrying plan and non-existent deals, it seems there is room for suspicions that there may be a tax optimization or product legalization plan in place. According to information available to FVS, there had been similar cases registered in the EU in the past. 3rd and lower category animal by-products ended up in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Malaysia for animal feed production.
Because there are concerns that dangerous by-products may have been sold to third countries, Latvian Food and Veterinary Service has informed Latvian branch of Europol. Materials regarding this entire case have also been sent to the State Revenue Service for further inspections.
A EUR 1,300 fine has been applied to the Latvian company for the breaches uncovered by FVS. This company has ceased all economic activities.