Horsemeat culprits sentenced to jail

Two men have been jailed and another has received a suspended sentence for fraudulently adding horsemeat to the food chain. 

Andronicos Sideras, owner of Dinos & Sons Ltd, and Ulrik Nielsen of Flexi Foods were sentenced to four years and six months’ and three years and six months’ imprisonment respectively at Inner London Crown Court on Monday 31 July. A third man, Alex Ostler-Beech, also of Flexi Foods was given an 18-month suspended sentence.

The case stems from an investigation by City of London Police in 2013, which revolved around meat trading company Flexi Foods, with UK offices in Hull, and owned by Ulrik Nielsen based in Denmark. Alex Beech was the UK representative of the company. Flexi Foods passed numerous consignments of meat through Andronicos Sideras’ company, Dinos & Sons based in Tottenham, a food supply company and sausage manufacturer.

In July 2014, following a search of Flexi Foods, evidence was uncovered that horsemeat was deliberately introduced into the food chain to increase profits. A later search of Dinos & Sons also found evidence relating to the case.

A search by police found Andronicos Sideras’ fingerprints on pallet labels attached to a consignment of mixed horse- and beef meat detained in Northern Ireland. According to City of London Police, these pallet notes were deliberately altered to ensure that anyone checking the containment thought it was 100% beef, when in fact tests showed it was approximately 30% horse. Other loads had replicated this mixing pattern between July and November 2012.

The investigation reached a global scale with inquiries in Denmark, Ireland, Poland, France, the Netherlands and Italy. It found that, during 2012, Nielsen and Beech were buying horsemeat from Ireland and sourcing beef from Poland, which was delivered to Dinos & Sons’ premises in Tottenham. Here Sideras would oversee the mixing of these different meat consignments, and would then apply false paperwork and labels to make it look like all the meat was 100% pure beef. The disguised products would then be sold on as beef without the buyer being aware of any horsemeat having been introduced.

Heather Hancock, chairman of the Food Standards Agency, said: “The sentencing is the result of an immense effort by individuals in a multi-agency investigation and, as well as the police, I’d like to highlight the key role played by local authorities in securing the conviction. Today’s sentences should act as a deterrent to those who think they can profit from committing food fraud.”

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