Factory worker jailed after ‘maliciously' contaminating food bound for high street restaurants

04 October 2023 by
Factory worker jailed after ‘maliciously' contaminating food bound for high street restaurants

A factory worker who admitted to "maliciously" tampering with food products destined for restaurants including Nando's has been jailed for more than three years.

Garry Jones, who worked for Harvey & Brockless Fine Food Company, a manufacturing firm based in Evesham, Worcesterhire, pleaded guilty to contaminating products with items including plastic bags and metal ring pulls. None of the products contaminated reached restaurant guests.

Jones was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment following a hearing at Worcester Crown Court yesterday (3 October).

During the trial, Mehree Kamranfar, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service 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."

Nick Martin, managing director of Harvey & Brockless, said: "It gives no-one at the company any pleasure that Garry Jones, our former colleague, has been sentenced to serve time in prison.

"However, we feel it is important that people realise that any such criminal actions will be punished, and for that reason we welcome the sentence he received."

It is understood that Jones worked as a ‘picker' on the late shift, whose responsibility was to collect the required ingredients for the next day's cooking.

Factory CCTV cameras showed Jones deliberately tampering food products, such as hummus and salad dressings, when he was alone. Footage of Jones was also shown of him mixing an unknown substance into raw ingredients that were to be prepared for production the following day.

In October last year, Harvey & Brockless, which produces large quantities of items for restaurants across the country, including Nando's and the Ivy Group, were informed that dozens of its products had been contaminated with non-food items.

Following an internal investigation of the affected products, which found other boxes had also been tampered with, the firm determined an employee must have been behind the contamination and the police were contacted.

Harvey & Brockless's products go through a metal detector before leaving the kitchen area, meaning they could not have been tampered with during the production process and must have been contaminated in the storage area of the factory.

After determining Jones was the culprit, he was arrested on 10 November 2022 and questioned by West Midlands Police. In addition to being questioned on contaminating food products, he also admitted to combining fish sauce with soy sauce on one occasion.

Martin said: "While everyone at the company was shocked and appalled at what happened, we were also reassured at how our quick response meant that no contaminated products ever reached any end consumers."

He added as soon as became aware of the contaminations, it recalled "the entire batch of products involved and communicated openly with all our customers and with the Environmental Health Officer", and that the majority of the contaminated products did not reach their destination restaurants.

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