Redhead was sentenced to prison at Hull Crown Court having pleaded guilty to fraudulently passing one type of sea bass off as another in a scam that hit the frozen food retailer.
Richard Hoskin, FSA head of food crime, incidents and resilience, said: “We congratulate Hull City Council on this successful prosecution.
“It is very encouraging to see local authorities take effective action to crack down on this sort of fraud. Fish substitution defrauds the customer and can tarnish the whole industry.”
The judgment followed an investigation by Hull City Council Trading Standards Service after DNA testing of samples of Iceland Seabass Fillets with Lemon & Parsley Butter yielded anomalous results.
Hull Trading Standards said the samples, which were test purchased in April 2013, were identified as Japanese sea bass (Lateolabrax Japonicus), a different species of fish to the sea bass (Dicentrarchus Labrax) sold to UK consumers. The public analyst conducting the testing therefore concluded the product was falsely described.
The product was packed for Iceland Foods by fish processor Kirwin Brothers Ltd of North Quay, Fish Docks, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire. Redhead and his company Michael Redhead Associates, based in Cumbria, provided a product and business development and sales service for Kirwin. The product was launched in Iceland stores in June 2012.
Iceland and Kirwin told Hull Trading Standards Redhead had given them an email, which appeared to convey Cumbria Trading Standards’ approval for the product to be labelled as ‘seabass’.
In fact, this email had been altered by Mr Redhead for his own commercial gain; the product couldn’t legally be called sea bass, the court heard.
Trading standards officers raided Redhead’s premises in Cumbria in July 2014, seizing documents and a laptop. They found Redhead had been trying to source a cheaper alternative to sea bass since August 2011, after sea bass prices had increased, making the retail product too expensive to produce for Iceland.
They found that Redhead was paid 5p commission per pack sold, a £3,000 per month retainer and expenses for services by Kirwin Brothers. In excess of 390,000 falsely described packs were sold nationally in Iceland stores, meaning Redhead had collected about £20,000 in commission alone.
Redhead was sentenced to six months in prison and his company was fined £50,000 after pleading guilty to fraud. Both are now subject to investigation under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Chris Wilson, Trading Standards manager, Hull City Council said: “The Trading Standards investigation showed Mr Redhead had intentionally provided false advice to a manufacturer and a retailer about how the product could be labelled.
“The crown court judge rightly pointed out that customers should have confidence in food they are buying. The Trading Standards Service regularly samples foods to ensure they are safe, and are as described, in order to protect the wellbeing and economic interests of the public.”
Iceland Foods and Kirwin Brothers have issued no comment on the subject.
Meanwhile, the first person faces jail in connection with the horsemeat scandal, after admitting last week to criminal charges in connection with the multi-million pound fraud.