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EHO shuts down unfit food supply

Stuart Spear15/06/2017 - 12:04

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On old workbench was being used when processing food
On old workbench was being used when processing food

The supplier of unfit meat to over 600 food outlets nationally has been prosecuted after an EHO spotted a company director exiting suspect premises.

In November 2015 Cannock Chase Council EHO Aine O’Brien was on her way to visit POE Ltd on Towers Business Park, Rugeley, Staffordshire when she saw company director Calin Poenatiu leaving premises that were not registered or approved as a part of the food business.

POE Ltd is a supplier of frozen meat products to retail stores operating out of two units on the industrial estate approved for cold storage only.

‘I knew he had the two units and I was driving past and saw him coming out of a third unit that he was applying for planning permission for manufacturing. So, I stopped to see why he was coming out of it and have a look around,’ explains Ms O’ Brien.

What she discovered inside the unit led her to unearth an illegal food operation with a distribution network spreading from Scotland to London.

Stored in the unapproved unit were freezers containing polystyrene trays of raw and cooked meatballs, cabbage rolls containing pork. In a chiller there was partly cooked raw minced pork in three crates on the floor.

The investigation revealed that Mr Poenatiu was cooking the pork at home and then transporting it in crates to the unit where they were being made up into patties. The pork was voluntarily surrendered.  

He had also been buying boxes of frozen chicken pieces in bulk and had been breaking them down into smaller packets for sale. He was using his supplier’s approval number and audit trail information on his own labels for onward sale.

‘He was basically making sure there was no come back to him at all,’ said Ms O’Brien.

Invoices were found dating from March 2015 related to the sale of frozen chicken livers, gizzards, hearts and wings. It is unclear whether he had distributed the pork products before being closed down.

Evidence was found of a delivery route involving 600 premises from Scotland to Wales to London with a client list of up to 700 outlets. It appeared POE was specialising in supplying small mini markets and shops selling to the Romanian and Eastern European communities. A vacuum packer was found in the processing area.

EHOs in Doncaster found suspect frozen chicken hearts and livers supplied by POE for sale in December 2015 and April 2016.

Conditions in the unit were also found to be unhygienic. ‘He had no washing facilities in the property flooring was filthy, no cleaning products dirty towels and a wooden bench that looked like an old working bench full of splinters with nailed lino which was his idea of cleansable,’ said Ms O’Brien.  

At a second hearing POE Ltd and Mr Poenariu pleaded guilty to three offences under Food Safety and Hygiene England Regulation 2013 including the use of unapproved premises, illegal production and the use of false labels.

The company also pleaded guilty to three further offences relating to hygiene standards on the premises. 

Magistrates imposed fines and costs totalling £35,720 on the company and £8,143 on Mr Penaitiu.





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