Lancaster City Council has successfully prosecuted a meat wholesaler and distributor for supplying frozen chicken in Morecambe that was only fit for pet food.
B Davies and Son Ltd, of Samuel Street in Bury, was ordered to pay a fine of £50,000 and £20,000 in costs, after admitting five charges under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 when it appeared in court on Tuesday.
The charges included selling food unfit for human consumption and misleading by mislabelling.
The court heard that environmental health staff from the city council seized a consignment of frozen chicken just as it was being delivered to a food business based in Morecambe after officers grew suspicious of the labels on the boxes.
On further examination, the labels were found not to be genuine and had been relabelled to make it appear almost two years fresher than it actually was.
The original manufacturer confirmed that they had not authorised the re-labelling and that that the chicken had been sold at a much reduced price and as “out of date” to B Davies and Son Ltd.
A lengthy and complex investigation ensued, which involved several local authorities, and close liaison with the National Food Crime Unit.
Investigators were faced with an uncooperative company that in the early stages provided misleading information to suggest that the chicken had originated from a different supplier.
Coun Andrew Warriner, Lancaster City Council Cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “The public will be horrified to hear that this business was prepared to recklessly endanger the health of consumers by selling unfit food in such a misleading way.
“This company bought cheap out of date food that was only fit for pet food, and then re-labelled it to bring it back in date, hugely increasing the profit margin.
“Although the company, B Davies and Son, is not a Lancaster business, we will not hesitate to pursue businesses that mislead our local food retailers and put our residents and visitors at risk.”
“This should be a severe warning to other businesses who might be thinking they can put profit over consumer rights and safety.”