A suspected illegal animal slaughter house and meat cutting plant has been uncovered in Northern Ireland, the UK Food Standards Agency has said.

Meat produced at the operation discovered in the Newry and Mourne area was allegedly done so without official hygiene checks, the agency added.

Investigations are ongoing to find out what businesses the produce was sold to.

The PSNI, Northern Ireland's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and Newry and Mourne District Council are all involved in the multi-agency investigation.

Maria Jennings, director of the Food Standards Agency in Northern Ireland, said: "The FSA is working closely with the PSNI and all relevant authorities, including DARD and the district council on this investigation - in order to stop further production at this plant and to protect the safety of the food chain.

"The information we have tells us that meat was being produced illegally, without official hygiene checks.

"We are currently investigating which businesses have been supplied with meat from the plant and we will provide further information once we have it."

Police said searches were conducted of two properties in the Forkhill area and a further property in the Bessbrook area, both in south Armagh.

"A suspected illegal animal slaughter and meat cutting operation was discovered," said a PSNI spokeswoman.

"A number of items have been seized for examination."