Man convicted of running £4M illegal poultry firm

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food standards agency Bristol

The illegal plant was supplying poultry to restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets
The illegal plant was supplying poultry to restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets
Bristol Crown Court has sentenced a man running a £4M illegal poultry business at the city’s Fishponds Trading Estate to one year’s imprisonment, suspended for two years, and community service.

The man responsible for running the operation, Kamran Ajaib, was prosecuted for 36 food hygiene violations, including failure to register a business and fraudulent use of health marks. He was also convicted of running a meat cutting plant without approval.

The judge in the case ordered the accused to serve 200 hours of community service and ruled assets of £51,000, including equity on his house, should also be seized.

The verdict followed a joint operation spearheaded by Bristol City Council, involving Bristol City Council Environmental Health Officers (EHOs); the Food Standards Agency (FSA); police and councils across Wales, the West Country and the Irish Republic.

Wire in chicken

A complaint from a resident in the Bristol area, who found a piece of wire in a chicken bought from a local takeaway, sparked the investigation.

EHOs discovered the source was openly advertising on specialist catering supplier pages online for minimum orders of 1,000kg.

After consultations with the FSA Food Fraud Team, two warrants were issued and EHOs and police raided the factory in May 2011.

“We found four tonnes of chicken and beef in an industrial unit, which, though in an unfinished state, was in daily use as a poultry cutting plant,”​ said John Barrow, principal EHO with Bristol City Council.

‘Serious hygiene defects’

“The premises were in a very poor state and with serious hygiene defects, which would have precluded the company from being approved as a cold store or cutting plant, had they applied.”

Analysis showed at least 20t of chicken and beef was processed every week and sold across a wide area along the M4 and M5 corridors, from Swindon to Caerphilly. It was also sold along the M5 from Bristol to the Forest of Dean and north to Gloucester.

“This was an extraordinary case: the company was selling sub-standard food over a huge area to restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets that were unknowingly serving it to the public,”​ said Barrow.

“They were running a multi-million pound illegal operation that put the public and local businesses at risk. Conditions of the premises were frankly unbelievable.”

Councillor Gus Hoyt, assistant mayor for Bristol responsible for the environment, said: “This was a very serious case which endangered the health of many. It is good to see that the court took it equally seriously by awarding a custodial sentence.

“This only highlights how important it is for food vendors to know and understand the food chain. Buying local from people you know is the best way to avoid such risks.”

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