$3.2m payout on rabbit meat

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 1994, 12:00am

A HONG KONG businessman who exported 148.8 tonnes of Chinese rabbit meat to Europe which was contaminated with pesticides and excrement was yesterday ordered to pay $3.2 million by the High Court.

The consignment, which had four times the level of pesticides allowed by the European Community, was ruled unfit for human consumption in Holland.

The Dutch company which bought the meat was unable to sell it to usual customers after it failed to meet EC food hygiene standards.

The bulk was re-exported to the Canary Islands with the rest ending up in pet food.

Pao Tat Trading Company, which bought the frozen rabbits from China, went out of business in 1992.

Its sole proprietor Luke Kuo-yao was brought in to act as an agent because the Chinese suppliers could not deal directly with importers J. A. Ter Marten.

The consignment was seized by Dutch authorities in October 1987.

But some of the rabbit had already reached food shops.

Ter Marten's counsel, P. Y. Lo, said: 'The contract was for quality rabbit for human consumption. Such meat would normally fetch a high price.' Yesterday Mr Justice Cheung ordered Pao Tat to pay the Dutch company around $3.2 million in compensation, including interest.

He said: 'Even if the defendant was acting as an agent I'm satisfied he assumed personal liability in this transaction.'