witness statement

name: Marja-Liisa Hovi
section: Food Poisoning
for: The Defence
experience: Veterinary Surgeon


In the witness' capacity as a veternary surgeon and specialist on red meat hygiene, we are provided with an extremely detailed account of discrepencies which were manifest in the abbatoir in which she was employed and which supplied McDonalds, and the failure to fulfill the companies own standards and requirements.


Not available for this witness

Full cv: Available for this witness

full statement:

  1. I am a veterinary surgeon with a speciality in red meat hygeine. I have worked in several large EC approved export abbatoirs in Finland, Botswana and the UK.

  2. In April 1994 I worked for a month as an Official Veterinary Surgeon at Alec Jarret Ltd. in Kingswood Borough Council in Bristol.

  3. Alec Jarrett Ltd. is a high throughput EC approved export abbatoir and cutting plant and supplies raw material for hamburger patties for McKey Food Services Limited. During my working period at Alec Jarrett Ltd the plant supplied McKey Food Services Ltd with an average of 20,000 lbs of beef cuttings per week. All consignments at the time were destined for the plant in Milton Keynes.

  4. I have read the statement given by Mr. Walker concerning the standards required by McKey Food Services Ltd from their suppliers and am also familiar with their Raw Material Specification. Surprisingly these documents were not made available for me when I worked at Alec Jarrett Ltd.

  5. Whilst the requirements and specifications are commendable and fulfil most requirements for good animal welfare and food hygiene in my opinion, I would like to question the way McKey food services Ltd supervises these specifications.

  6. I would also like to take up the following areas where the practices at Alec Jarrett Ltd were in direct controversy with the McKey Food Services Ltd's Raw Material Specification and with the requirements mentioned in Mr. Walker's statement.

  7. In addition to the above mentioned points I would like to further state that in spite of being an EC approved abbatoir and cutting plant Alec Jarrett Ltd was operating under conditions that are a far cry of the EC legislation standards and was allowed to do so by the Inspectors of the Ministry of Agriculture on conditions that extensive improvements be made in the near future. It was obvious from the past correspondence between the previous Official Veterinary Surgeon, the plant management and the MAFF officials that this unacceptable situation concerning the hygiene standards and the structural deficiencies had been prevalent for several years. I will list here only a few of the practices and structural deficiencies directly in controversy with the EC requirements as laid down in The Fresh Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1992.

    This list is by no means exhaustive but serves to point out the fact that Alec Jarrett Ltd. was by no means operating at the EC approved standards referred to by Mr. Walker in his statement. This failure to follow the required standards should have been clear to any quality control inspector visiting the plant.

  8. I would like to further express my surprise at the total lack of communication on behalf of McKey Food Services Ltd with the Official Veterinary Surgeon's office and could find no copies of the McKey Food Services' Raw Material Specifications or other form of correspondence.

  9. In addition to the above I would like to clarify my present position in relation to Alec Jarrett Ltd. I was dismissed by my employer, the veterinary meat hygeine practice Eville and Jones of 36 Market Place, Bolsover, after a month's working period. My dismissal was a culmination of severe pressure put on me both by my employer and the management of the plant to sign export certificates without the necessary back-up documentation to ensure that the animals came from BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) free holdings as required by the importing countries. In spite of the fact that both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and The Ministry of Agriculture backed my point of view in the argument the dismissal went ahead.

  10. I would like to take the opportunity to explain the present system of veterinary meat inspection at EC approved abbatoirs and meat plants to clarify my position. The local authorities are responsible for the meat inspection services at the abbatoirs and meat plants in their area. They normally do not employ veterinary surgeons to perform the work but tender the work out on a contract basis to local veterinary practices or specialised meat hygiene practices like Eville and Jones. The veterinary practice then employs a veterinary surgeon to carry out the veterinary work necessary at the plant. The contracts are often short term contracts.

  11. My employer implied to me that they risked loosing the contract with the Kingswood District Council, where Alec Jarrett Ltd is situated, if I insisted on the proper certification procedure and felt that they had to let me go. This was all that was said at the time of my dismissal. Later, when my employer realised that I had taken the matter up with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, I was sent a letter giving other reasons for my dismissal.

  12. Since my dismissal I have been in contact with both the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the Ministry of Agriculture and the whole bone-in beef export certification procedure is under their consideration. The president of the Royal College, Mr. Neil King, has endorsed my action fully and his statement to that effect is recorded.

date signed: 4 Dec 1994
status: Appeared in court
references: Not applicable/ available
exhibits: Not applicable/ available

transcripts of court appearances:

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