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The BBC's Richard Wells
"One of the most complex and profitable food frauds ever uncovered"
 real 56k

Friday, 8 September, 2000, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Pet food 'sold for human use'
Poultry in a slaughterhouse
A percentage of all poultry is processed for pet food
Seven people have appeared in court after meat intended for petfood was allegedly sold for human consumption.

They are all charged with conspiracy to defraud businesses by selling poultry meat not fit for human consumption.

Clive Boid, Andrew Boid and Darren Bibby from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Peter and Louise Tantram of Ingham, Lincolnshire, Kevin Wilson of Cleethorpes, Humberside and Timothy Powell from Hove, East Sussex, deny the charges.

Once poultry is condemned, it can never lawfully be received back into the edible food chain

Ben Nolan, QC
On the first day of the trial at Hull Crown Court, prosecutor Ben Nolan QC, said: "The risk to public health from food poisoning organisms has been unquantifiable.

"The main fraud alleged here is a fraud on the consumer. It was operated over a period of about three years between 1993 and 1996.

Serious implications

"It had serious food safety implications. The Crown alleges that the defendants devised and operated a system for selling meat as wholesome and edible when in truth it was condemned meat which was fit only for pet food," he told the court.

The jury heard that Clive and Andrew Boid and Mr Bibby were bosses at Newark-based company Wells By-Products Ltd, which was responsible for processing poultry meat for pet food.

The company bought in huge quantities of condemned poultry which was packaged as pet food and invoiced to Lincoln-based company Cliff Top Pet Foods, run by Peter and Louise Tantram, the court heard.

The meat was then cleaned up and passed on to a man not on trial, who helped change the product's identity from pet food to normal food, said Mr Nolan.

Further charges

Mr Wilson and Mr Powell, both food brokers, then helped sell the food on to butchers, market traders, food outlets and supermarkets, the court was told.

The profits made from the operation were enormous and ran into millions of pounds over the three years, said Mr Nolan.

The scam was uncovered when food officials launched an undercover surveillance operation on a company in South Yorkshire.

The court was told that a percentage of all poultry is condemned and consigned to the pet food industry.

"But once poultry is condemned, it can never lawfully be received back into the edible food chain," Mr Nolan said.

Mr Wilson and Mr Powell face further charges of selling unfit sausage meat for human consumption in 1995 and 1996.

The trial, which is expected to last four months, was adjourned until Monday.

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