Pet food boss guilty of reselling bad meat

The boss of a pet food manufacturing plant was convicted yesterday over a £1.1m meat fraud racket that saw tons of condemned poultry dumped into the human food chain.

Peter Roberts, 68, was behind the scam in which leading supermarkets, hospitals, old people's homes and schools were supplied with meat fit only for the incinerator.

Roberts, who ran Denby Poultry Products for six years, is believed to be somewhere on the Continent after failing to turn up for his 10-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court. He was found guilty in his absence of conspiracy to defraud after a police investigation discovered that poultry cast-offs had been collected from slaughterhouses and trimmed at the plant to resemble proper cuts.

The work was done at a factory infested with rats and polluted with sewage. Roberts, of Derby, paid about £25 per ton for the meat and later sold it as a high-quality product that may have gone to Sainsbury, Bupa, and Tesco, making him a profit of more than £500,000.

Brian Davies, 37, from Bury Greater Manchester, was cleared of the same offence. Verdicts are awaited on three other men.