The Irish arm of supermarket Iceland has been ordered to remove imported frozen animal products from its stores.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) served a notice on Metron Stores Limited – which trades as Iceland Ireland – to withdraw items brought into the country since 3 March this year.
The products include meat and fish as well as food that contain animal-based ingredients, such as eggs and dairy.
Iceland Ireland has also been directed to recall affected goods from customers – with anyone who has purchased frozen animal products since March warned not to eat them.
The enforcement action was taken following a series of breaches of food laws and an ongoing investigation.
The company has been involved in discussions over “very serious breaches of food law”, said FSAI chief executive Dr Pamela Byrne.
There have been no reports of illness associated with the implicated products from Iceland Ireland to date, Dr Byrne added.
Withdrawal is a ‘precautionary measure’ over traceability concerns
However, the measures have been implemented as a “precautionary approach to protect customers” after Iceland Ireland failed to provide “valid and correct traceability documentation as required by law”.
“We cannot be fully confident of the traceability and safety of these imported frozen foods of animal origin,” Dr Byrne said.
“It is the legal responsibility of any food business importing food into Ireland to make the correct import declarations for the food they are importing.
“All food businesses must have full traceability information on the food they are importing, producing, distributing and selling.”
Some food has been imported without pre-notification and completed entry declarations and health certificates since 3 March, the watchdog said.
The action is part of an ongoing investigation after Iceland Ireland is said to have brought undeclared frozen food of animal origin with no accompanying importation documents into the country.
This prompted Ireland’s Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to detain consignments and issue an import control notice to ship the products back to Britain or destroy them.
Dublin Port officials are assessing consignments to establish if they comply with import controls and legal requirements.
Sky News has contacted Iceland for further comment.
In January 2013, the so-called horsemeat scandal saw leading supermarkets including Tesco remove some brands of frozen beefburgers from stores in the UK and Ireland.
A month later, meat stored in a Northern Irish factory was revealed to be 80% horse, the Food Standards Agency said.