Birmingham – A wholesaler has been hit with fines and court costs of more than £60,000 after consumer watchdogs discovered the company selling meat it falsely claimed was halal to Muslims.Birmingham Trading Standards swooped on JKY Food Solutions in Bissell Street, Highgate, in July 2012 as part of Operation Swordfish, a city-wide investigation.
Posing as a customer, an officer purchased a 12kg box of chicken for £22 and was assured by staff that it was halal, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
But the source of the meat was later traced to a supplier in Ireland which, at that time, did not sell halal meat, said Barry Berlin, prosecuting.
He added: “When the defendant received the chicken from its supplier it was not boxed or labelled as halal, but when they sold it on it was marked as halal.
“Halal meat is significantly more expensive than non-halal meat, therefore there is a motivation on behalf of the person who sold it to slip it under the wire as something that it was not.”
JKY Food Solutions, which boasted a £7.3 million turnover last year, previously pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching general food regulations in relation to the supply of 274 boxes of chicken worth almost £6,000 sold between April and September 2012.
However, Mr Berlin said it was the “tip of the iceberg”, with records showing the company was selling over 1,000 boxes of chicken a month from various suppliers.
Gerard Cullen, defending, said that despite the firm’s multi-million pound turn-over it made a loss of nearly £50,000.
“Both the director of the company and his 18 employees are all Muslims and are equally as offended to have non-Halal meat,” he said. “There is no dishonesty here, it is more an offence of complacency.”He said the company, which has since moved to Leopold Street, was now complying with the law.
Fining the business £35,000 and ordering it to pay £26,910 prosecution costs, His Honour Judge Patrick Thomas QC, added: “The consumers who went there went for halal meat for powerful religious and cultural reasons.
“They would not be just upset but revolted to find they were purchasing, eating, giving to family and even takeaway and restaurant customers something that was non-halal.”
Coun Barbara Dring, chairman of Birmingham City Council’s public protection committee, said after the case: “Food fraud is a major concern that we take very seriously and we welcome this sentence.”
Originally published on www.birminghammail.co.uk