Garry Jones, 38, worked as a late-night picker for Evesham-based Harvey & Brockless Fine Food Company when the tampering occurred.
From 28 October 2022, the food firm was informed that dozens of its products had been contaminated with items including rubber gloves, plastic bags and metal ring pulls. None of the products ever made it to customers.
An internal investigation of the affected products by the company found that the contamination would have had to have happened after the production process – the products go through a metal detector after leaving the kitchen, meaning they would have been tampered with in the storage area.
Further, Harvey & Brockless was alerted to Jones’ actions when CCTV footage showed him mixing an unknown substance into raw ingredients that were to be prepared for production the following day while he was alone.
Jones was arrested on 10 November 2022 and questioned by West Midlands Police, where he later admitted to combining fish sauce with soy sauce on one occasion.
⚖️ Garry Jones, 38, a factory worker who admitted to contaminating food products used in popular high street restaurants, has been jailed after appearing in court today.— Crown Prosecution Service (@CPSUK) October 3, 2023
Mehree Kamranfar, Senior Crown Prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, said: “This was an extremely disturbing case that could have had far-reaching implications had the defendant not been caught. Jones knowingly and maliciously contaminated food products that were going to be distributed to some of the most popular high street restaurants across the country.
Life threatening sabotage
“The cross-contamination caused alarm both within the company and externally, as Jones’s utter disregard, particularly in mixing fish sauce with raw ingredients, could have threatened serious harm to those with allergies. In addition, sabotaging the food products supplied by Harvey & Brockless not only cost the firm thousands of pounds, it also threatened to destroy the company’s reputation.”
Jones pleaded guilty to contaminating foods, as well as a separate charge of burglary where he was found to have broken into a colleague’s house through a window and stolen a pink hairbrush. He was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment following a hearing at Worcester Crown Court.
Meanwhile, Jodie Curry, commercial manager at Fortress Technology Europe, discusses the steps that food processors can take to help prevent the circulation of unsafe food during the cost-of-living crisis and beyond.