Five jailed for £2.9m racket in condemned food

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Five men were jailed yesterday for putting hundreds of tons of condemned poultry on sale in supermarkets and restaurants in a £2.9m scam, and the Government was urged to set up a special unit to catch the traffickers in food unfit for human consumption.

Five men were jailed yesterday for putting hundreds of tons of condemned poultry on sale in supermarkets and restaurants in a £2.9m scam, and the Government was urged to set up a special unit to catch the traffickers in food unfit for human consumption.

Trading standards officials in Rotherham, who exposed the "poultry-laundering" fraud, believe other operators must be investigated. Denis MacShane, Labour MP for Rotherham, said similar scams were being run around the country and called for a "Food Bureau of Investigation" to be created. "The new Food Standards Agency has to get hold of this problem quickly," he said.

Andrew Boid, 33, of Carlton in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire, was sentenced to seven years by Hull Crown Court; Darren Bibby, 29, of Oldcotes, near Worksop, got three; and Peter Tantram, 47, of Ingham, Lincolnshire was given six. Boid and Tantram were also found guilty of conspiracy to sell pet meat falsely represented as human food quality. Each was given 12 months, consecutively.

Arnold Smith, 63, of Sheffield, and John McGinty, 48, of Woodsetts, near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, admitted the conspiracy before the trial, which began in September. Smith was jailed for three years and nine months and McGinty was sentenced to five years.

Judge Heppel said: "It's difficult to find words sufficient to describe the appalling nature of the main fraud. For several years each of you took part in a cynical fraud motivated by financial greed." Some consignments of meat were likely to be bought by less "affluent members of society," he added. "Indeed, one consignment was served at an old people's home in South Yorkshire.

"This court has heard no evidence that anyone was affected in any way or may be by the consuming of this produce. [But] the risk to public health was present. An outbreak of food poisoning in that old people's home could have had catastrophic consequences."

Judge Heppel said the "greedy and dishonest" men made millions of pounds from the fraud between 1993 and 1996.

Heaps of bad-smelling, badly bruised poultry, covered in dung, flies and feathers, were found by Rotherham environmental health officers and South Yorkshire Police. Large quantities of salt, used to remove slime from the meat and freshen up its appearance, were also discovered.

Lewis Coates, a Rotherham trading standards officer who led the inquiry, believes the trade in unfit poultry meat has existed since the 1980s. "Officers became aware similar scams were operating throughout the country. But no one followed up our findings."

Comments