International news

Finnish Customs recently conducted an investigation into a case of international meat smuggling, which posed significant risks to consumers. The illicit activity involved the transportation of large quantities of meat to Finland without proper refrigeration and legal documentation, while also evading taxes and compromising food safety controls. The case came to light during a Customs inspection at the West Harbour of Helsinki in the spring of 2022.

During the investigation, it was revealed that the suspect attempted to bring approximately 500 kg of fresh beef and sheep meat into Finland in a passenger car from Latvia, via Estonia. The Finnish Food Authority determined that the quantity of meat exceeded the limits for personal use and was clearly intended for commercial purposes. Additionally, the suspect had failed to register the operation, a requirement under the Food Act for the commercial import of foodstuffs.

The meat was transported without proper refrigeration and lacked a salmonella certificate. These deficiencies not only put consumers at risk of illness but also facilitated the potential spread of salmonella among unsuspecting individuals. The suspect admitted to having previously brought fresh and frozen meat to Finland through similar means.

"The case is serious in terms of consumer safety. The operation has caused harm to the health and safety of citizens, as well as to law-abiding operators in the food sector. The suspect has financially benefited by disregarding the mandatory cold transport approval and registration obligations for the food sector," stated Juha Havumäki, the investigator in charge.

While products generally move freely within EU countries, import requirements vary to ensure product safety and prevent the spread of animal and plant diseases. The Finnish Food Authority oversees the import of foodstuffs of animal origin into Finland, with Customs providing assistance as needed in collaboration with other authorities.

This case is being investigated as both a smuggling offense and a health offense. The preliminary investigation is in its final stages, and the case will be forwarded to the Prosecution District of Southern Finland for consideration of charges. The authorities involved remain committed to safeguarding consumer safety and upholding the integrity of the food sector.