Published: 15:23, 28 September 2017
A kebab shop meat supplier has been jailed after a freezer was found to be stocked with six metric tonnes of poultry unfit for human consumption.
Sukru Ahmet was told by a judge it had to be custody because he flagrantly disregarded the law and failed to respond to repeated warnings.
His company, UK Chicken Doner and Poultry Ltd, was also fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £23,760 prosecution costs.
Sentencing the 59-year-old “failed businessman” to four months imprisonment, Judge Adele Williams said: “You were in my judgement ill-equipped to carry on this business and you failed to take advice and warnings given to you by inspectors of the local authority.
“You were warned in November 2015 you didn’t have the necessary approval for processing meat. You were told to stop such operations until permission was granted, but you continued.”
Maidstone Crown Court heard trading standards inspectors filled 12 pallets with raw meat which had considerable “freezer burn” and had either no use-by dates or dates which had expired.
The walk-in freezer at the company’s industrial unit Upper Hockenden Farm, Hockenden Lane, Swanley, also contained German-manufactured doner kebabs falsely labelled as being made in the UK.
Director Ahmet was told to stop such operations until permission was granted.
But when inspectors arrived unannounced two months later they discovered a food processing facility, with meat cutting, dicing and grinding equipment, as well as a concrete mixer adapted into a food mixer.
Ahmet was warned again, but a further inspection in April last year revealed that the business was still trading, and uncovered the six tonnes of frozen poultry, other poultry products and doner kebabs.
It was later condemned by magistrates as being unfit for human consumption.
Ahmet and the company admitted 21 offences of contravening or failing to comply with EU provision concerning food safety and hygiene regulations.
The court was told there was no evidence that anybody had become ill as a result of Ahmet’s actions.
Previously made bankrupt, he set up a business selling raw meat direct to customers at his premises.
But the company was not registered with Sevenoaks District Council, and it was only when he applied to do so in November 2015 that officers were made aware of his plans to branch out into making and supplying doner kebabs to shops and fast food outlets.
Prosecutor David Hercock said the firm was warned in writing it could not operate until approval had been obtained.
He told the court that Ahmet then showed “a flagrant disregard” by continuing to trade, and also by falsely claiming in January last year that his firm had by then decided not to process chicken.
“Notwithstanding the advice given in December 2015 and what the officer had been told in January 2016, the company was manufacturing doner kebabs,” said Mr Hercock.
“Products were being placed on the market when they were unsafe, and the products seized were found to be unsafe" - prosecutor David Hercock
“On arrival, the officers were confronted by a facility equipped for the manufacturing of doner kebabs.
“Mr Ahmet admitted manufacturing doner kebabs and selling raw products for onward use.”
Despite a further warning to cease trading, the firm was still operating without approval in April last year.
It also failed to keep records such as purchase orders, delivery notes and invoices which would have ensured the food’s traceability.
“Products were being placed on the market when they were unsafe, and the products seized were found to be unsafe,” added Mr Hercock.
Christopher Johnston, defending, said the large stock of frozen meat found in April would only have been sold on as pet food.
The company, described as “micro”with a turnover of less than £2 million, has since stopped trading.
Ahmet, of East Rochester Way, Sidcup, now works as a foreman at the same industrial units.
The father-of-two, whose property has been put into his wife’s name, was said to have been left in considerable debt to his suppliers and had no assets.
But Judge Williams ordered that the fine and costs should be paid by January 31 next year.