Factory worker jailed after tampering with food products

Credit: CPS

A Worcestershire factory worker has been jailed after he admitted to tampering with food products.

Garry Jones, 38, worked for Harvey & Brockless Fine Food Company, a manufacturing firm based in Evesham that produces large quantities of items for restaurants across the country, including Nando’s and The Ivy Group.

Working as a ‘picker’ on the late shift, Jones would collect the ingredients needed for the next day’s cooking. CCTV cameras found him tampering deliberately with tubs of hummus and salad dressing when he was alone.

Harvey & Brockless were informed on October 28, that dozens of its products had been contaminated with items including rubber gloves, plastic bags and metal ring pulls.

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. No contaminated products ever reached customers.

Jones raised further alarm when footage showed him mixing an unknown substance into raw ingredients that were to be prepared for production the following day.

He was arrested on November 10 and questioned by West Midlands Police, where he later admitted during his police interview to combining fish sauce with soy sauce on one occasion.

He was sentenced on Tuesday (October 3) to 42 months imprisonment following a hearing at Worcester Crown Court.

Mehree Kamranfar, senior crown prosecutor for CPS 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.

“The cross-contamination caused alarm both within the company and externally, as Jones’s utter disregard, particularly in mixing fish sauce with raw ingredients, could have threatened serious harm to those with allergies.

“In addition, sabotaging the food products supplied by Harvey & Brockless not only cost the firm thousands of pounds, it also threatened to destroy the company’s reputation”.

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.

“This disturbing episode could have had awful consequences if Harvey & Brockless had not had such robust quality assurance and product recall procedures in place.

“The vast majority of the products involved never even reached their destination, and any items that that did were quickly returned before reaching the end consumer, which meant everyone was fully protected from any contamination”.

Jones also admitted a separate charge of burglary, after he was found to have broken into a colleague’s house through a window and stolen a pink hairbrush.