The Department of Agriculture have said they are “very concerned” with the rise in cattle rustling, a phenomenon which is thought to be fuelling illegal abattoirs.
Border crime gangs, with links to the Provisional IRA have now turned their hand to the grisly trade.
Both Gardaí and the PSNI in the North are joining forces and have already shut down a number of illegal abattoirs in both the North and the South.
The criminals acquire the meat through cattle rustling, which has made a comeback along the border region in the last 12 months.
In July, Anthony Duffy of Doolargy, Ravensdale lost 5 bullocks, which were stolen from his farm. Speaking at the time, Louth Irish Farming Association Chairman Matthew McGreehan said the gardai and PSNI need to tackle the problem.
He said: “The gardai, PSNI and departments on both side of the border are going to have to cooperate more to dealwith this serious problem.”
Animals killed in these illegal abattoirs are not subject to the hygiene and welfare standards of legally slaughtered livetock. The fear is that the meat, once it gets into the food chain, could be a potentially serious health hazard.
In a statement given to the Dundalk Democrat The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine said it “is very concerned about the theft of farm animals from Irish farms.
“The Department assists with investigations when requested by the Gardaí. There is also ongoing cooperation between the authorities in Northern Ireland and those in the Republic. In this regard, a cross border liaison Group comprising the SIU, Gardai and PSNI liaise and investigate the theft of livestock on an all Ireland basis.
“When cattle are reported as stolen to the Department, they are marked on the AIM database as being stolen on foot of a Garda report. If these animals are presented anywhere in the State for sale, slaughter or export they are checked against the database and will be rejected at these outlets and an investigation initiated.”
Speaking to the Democrat a spokesperson for the Food Safety Association of Ireland (FSAI) said with regard to the suspicious meat that”If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”
“We would recommend that people stick to food that is provided by approved butchers and factories.”
It is not illegal to slaughter an animal for your own family consumption.
However, domestic slaughter presents increased food safety risks. In addition, rules in relation to animal welfare, disposal of animal by-products, sampling for BSE and notification of the relevant Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine database must also be followed.