The owner of a North Warwickshire pet food supplier has been prosecuted for fraud and animal health offences.
Ben Sweet owned and ran BS Pet Foods based at Innage Park, Abeles Way, Atherstone and later at Over Coppice Farm, Boulters Lane, Wood End. Trading Standards Officers were called to the trader’s premises in Atherstone after receiving reports that meat was being butchered illegally.
Officers discovered an appalling scene. Despite a turnover of over £100,000 per year, workers at the premise were cutting pigs ears and trotters in contaminated and unhygienic conditions. Raw and cooked pig products were being transported and stored together and employees were working without protective equipment or hand washing facilities. There wasn’t even any electricity.
The business was selling their pig pet food products direct to consumers on Ebay and supplying pet food stores.
Trading Standards Officers ordered the business to stop moving pig products on or off the premise and to clean both the premise and the business’s vehicle. Four improvement notices were issued but the trader simply moved to new premises (on a farm), and began operating again in equally unhygienic conditions. Officers found evidence of raw pigs’ ears kept in unhygienic wheelie bins, prepared on a cutting table made of bare board and cooked in makeshift ovens in premises with a floor of bare earth and mud, next to premises which housed cattle.
Warwickshire County Councillor Andy Crump, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety said:
“I’m delighted that Warwickshire Trading Standards took this action to protect consumers.”
At Warwick Crown Court on Friday 21st June 2019, Ben James Sweet (aged 29 of Church Road, Atherstone) trading as BS Pet Foods pleaded guilty to offences under the Fraud Act 2006, The Animal By-Products (Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2013, and the Animal Feed (Hygiene, Sampling etc and Enforcement) (England) Regulations 2015. He was handed an 18 month suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 180 hours unpaid work. Equipment used by the business was forfeited.
His Honour Judge Cooke, presiding, stated that Mr Sweet had operated the business without any serious attempt to comply with regulations designed to protect employees and consumers. He had not adhered to hygiene processes and had failed to respond to warnings and advice, instead choosing to dishonestly continue trading.
In mitigation Mr Sweet’s Barrister stated that her client was an individual of previous good character who had got into financial difficulties and let things get on top of him. He was also dyslexic and struggled with paperwork.
More information about Trading Standards is available on the Warwickshire Website: https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/tradingstandards