A Birmingham business was fined £35,000 after pleading guilty to one offence relating the sale of non-Halal meat to a Trading Standards officer, at Birmingham Crown Court today (10 September 2014).
Birmingham City Council brought a case against JKY Food Solutions Limited, based at 96 Bissell Street in Highgate, after a box of chicken (weighing 12.03kg) was sold as Halal to an officer.
The company, prosecuted under General Food Regulations 2004, was also ordered to pay to £26,910 court costs and £120 victim surcharge.
On 19 July 2012 two officers visited the company’s wholesale premises as part of Operation Swordfish, a city-wide investigation into traders supplying mislabelled Halal and non-Halal meat.
An officer, posing as a customer stocking up on meat ahead of the month of Ramadan, was shown the freezer where chicken products were kept. He noted that many of the products carried a serial code (IE 803 EC) which he did not recognise, and therefore would need to check the supplier’s details.
As the officer bought a box of chicken, he was assured it was Halal. The receipt for £22 also stated, in Arabic, that the meat was Halal.
Trading standards officers, along with West Midlands Police, executed a warrant on the Highgate wholesaler on 12 August 2012, and as a result a large amount of documentation and a box of chicken were seized.
Documents seized from the company’s premises revealed that more than 270 boxes of non-Halal chicken were received for sale by JKY Food Solutions Limited between April 2012 and July 2012.
Subsequent enquiries revealed the meat sold to the officer was supplied by a registered wholesaler in Co.Meath, Ireland, who confirmed that he had not traded in Halal chicken “for some months”.
JKY Food Solutions Limited was allowed to continue trading from its premises in Highgate throughout this investigation, however it has moved to a new base at 126 Leopold Street, Highgate.
Cllr Barbara Dring, who chairs the city’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, said: “Food fraud is a major concern that we take very seriously and, as in this case, we will take appropriate action – including prosecution – where any case warrants this.
“Consumers, particularly those who follow strict dietary guidelines in line with their religious beliefs, expect to food labelling to accurately reflect the provenance of their food.
“We work closely with the Food Standards Agency on this issue and would urge anyone with concerns about the quality or provenance of meat being sold in Birmingham, to contact us so we can investigate.”