Large fine for illegal poultry firm owner
A man found guilty of running a multi-million pound illegal poultry supply business has been spared prison but ordered to pay a hefty fine by Bristol Crown Court.
Kamran Ajaib pled guilty in 2011 to eight charges concerning Hamza Poultry Ltd, which he ran from a warehouse on Fishponds Trading Estate. After investigating the financial details, Judge Michael Roach sentenced him to one year’s imprisonment suspended to two years, 200 hours community service and seizure of assets worth £51,000, which includes equity on his house.
Ajaib’s makeshift processing plant, which supplied chicken to 60 food businesses in Bristol and the surrounding area, was described as “filthy” by Bristol City Council Environmental Health Officers, who found dirty knives, underpants used as cleaning cloths and just one hand-washing basin at the facility.
The eight offences under food hygiene legislation included failure to register a business, operating a meat cutting plant without approval, serious hygiene failures in the equipping and running of the business, and fraudulent use of health marks.
John Barrow, Principal Environmental Officer for Bristol City Council said: “This was an extraordinary case: the company was selling sub-standard food over a huge area to restaurants, takeaways and supermarkets that were unknowingly serving it to the public. They were running a multi-million pound illegal operation that put the public and local businesses at risk. Conditions of the premises were frankly unbelievable.”
Environmental Health Officers launched investigations into Hamza Poultry following a complaint from a local resident, who found a piece of wire in chicken from a Bristol takeaway.
Officers traced the meat back to the supplier and discovered it was openly advertising on a specialist catering supplier website despite not being registered with the council. After consulting with the FSA food fraud team, Environmental Health Officers raided the office and factory of the operation in May 2011, assisted by police.
“We found four tonnes of chicken and beef in an industrial unit, which though in an unfinished state was in daily use as a poultry cutting plant. The premises were in a very poor state and with serious hygiene defects, which would have precluded the company from being approved as a cold store or cutting plant, had they applied,” said Barrow.
Analysis by the officers revealed that meat from the plant had been supplied to businesses across a wide area along the M4 and M5 corridors, from Swindon to Caerphilly and along the M5 from Bristol to the Forest of Dean and North to Gloucester.
Speaking after Ajaib’s sentencing, Bristol Cllr Gus Hoyt, Assistant Mayor responsible for the Environment said: “This was a very serious case which endangered the health of many. It is good to see that the court took it equally seriously by awarding a custody sentence.
“This only highlights how important it is for food vendors to know and understand the food chain. Buying local from people you know is the best way to avoid such risks.”