Council chops and changes over kosher meat inquiry

The investigation of a complaint against a North-West London butcher by Barnet Council could take months to resolve, the JC has been told by the council .

The news was a blow to Albert Bendahan, owner of the Kosher Delicatessen chain in Golders Green, Temple Fortune and Edgware, who hoped it would have been resolved swiftly.

Mr Bendahan met a council environmental health officer on Monday but was given no clear indication of how long the investigation would take.

The council has given conflicting information about its course of action. When asked by the JC last week about the progress of the inquiry, the council said it was preparing a prosecution. That changed three days later with a spokesman saying that there had been a mistake and that the investigation had not been finalised.

This week a council spokesman said that “a lot of work goes into an investigation like this. The council has to wait for the results of scientific tests. An investigation can take months.”

The spokesman said that prosecution was one of the options open to the council at the end of the investigation.

The complaint being investigated centred on the discovery of sulphur dioxide in a portion of minced chuck steak that the council had bought and analysed.

It can be used legally in burgers and sausages to extend the shelf-life of such products by two to three days and helps keep certain bacteria under control. But it cannot be used in fresh mince.

Mr Bendahan has argued that sulphur dioxide occurs naturally when meat is salted during the koshering process. Since the investigation started, he has carried out his own tests at an independent laboratory and given the results to the council.

    Last updated: 10:43am, May 16 2008