Breaches of food safety legislation at a UK dairy and the failure of the UK’s Food Standards Agency to address the issue have caused the EU to impose a ban on curd cheese produced by Bowland Dairy Products and examine the nation’s dairy industry as a whole.

All member states will ban Bowland Dairy Products’ curd cheese and trace and destroy any cheese from this dairy that is currently in circulation.

The ban is a consequence of a series of food safety and hygiene problems identified by the EC’s Food and Veterinary Office. An inspection in June found the dairy to be non-compliant with EU food safety laws. Out-of-date milk collected from retail outlets, milk containing antibiotic residues or contaminated with substances such as detergents and dyes was being used to make curd cheese, the FVO said. The EC said that there was evidence that Bowland Dairy Products also used mouldy and contaminated cheese, including “food waste”, to vacuum-pack for sale.

A follow-up inspection in September found persistent non-compliance at the dairy.

The EC said that it is also considering infringement proceedings against the UK for its lack of action on this issue. European authorities repeatedly alerted UK regulatory bodies to the problem and requested action. “Extensive discussions between the commission and the UK authorities revealed that they took no effective action to ensure that the dairy came into full compliance with EU hygiene and food safety laws,” the EC said.

An FOV inspection of the entire UK dairy sector is scheduled to be carried out in November. If evidence of similar practices is uncovered at other UK daries further action will be taken, the EC said.

The safeguard clause will remain in place until the UK Food Safety Authority has shown that it has taken measures to ensure that there is no risk to human health, and has changed its procedures with regard to what it demands for antibiotic testing in milk.