Two people have been sentenced to community service in England for violations including food hygiene offences and failure to register a food business.
Irfan Hanif Patel of Ravensthorpe Road, Dewsbury, was sentenced to 120 hours of unpaid work in the community after pleading guilty to breaching the Trade Marks Act 1994 and a number of food hygiene offences. His brother, Mohammed Patel of Thornhill Street, Dewsbury, was given 100 hours of community service at Leeds Crown Court.
In December 2020, West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kirklees Council’s environmental health team received intelligence about counterfeit Abel and Cole cranberry sauce being sold throughout the country. The sauce was also supplied near Christmas when demand was high, posing an increased risk. An investigation involved the Food Standards Agency’s National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) and other local authorities.
Fake cranberry sauce was purchased by Irfan Patel who was acting as a sole trader and was passed onto his brother Mohammed Patel, the director of Stock Up Direct Limited.
Stock Up Direct supplied more than 1,000 jars to a wholesaler who distributed them to various food companies around the country. Neither man had registered the business with the council so it had never been inspected to ensure it met the required food hygiene standards.
Lack of traceability
Officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kirklees Council visited food businesses supplied in Kirklees and obtained the jars for examination. Officials went to Irfan’s business, at the time on Bretton Park Way, Dewsbury. Irfan said stock was bought from another trader. An invoice was produced for a business which was untraceable.
Officers also visited Stock Up Direct. An interview with Mohammed Patel revealed he had never seen any stock that went through the company. It was created as a side business for his brother, and he was involved in other larger firms.
An inspection of the Bretton Park Way premises found a warehouse with large quantities of food. Irfan Patel was unable to provide documentation to demonstrate the legal provenance of the items, which were seized and later destroyed.
Kirklees Council applied to Kirklees magistrates’ court for a food condemnation order in February 2021. This was granted because of concerns on sourcing of foods from unregistered businesses, where no regulatory checks had taken place to ensure safe storage, handling or distribution. Origin was also unknown so could be linked to illegal activities such as bringing food destined for waste back into the supply chain, according to the order.
A sample of the suspected counterfeit product was found by the Public Analyst to be not genuine Abel and Cole cranberry sauce. The company confirmed the sauce had a label which was a copy of the Abel and Cole registered trademark.
David Strover, trading standards manager, and Naheed Mather, from Kirklees Council, said food that is counterfeit means the label is misleading and it can pose serious harm to consumers.
“Businesses need to ensure they are registered with the local authority 28 days before beginning to operate. They must have a traceability system in place and to only purchase stock they believe is legitimate by conducting checks. Supplying food that is counterfeit can pose serious risks to the community as it is often made in an uncontrolled environment with uncontrolled processes and ingredients,” they said.
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