Factory worker jailed for contaminating salad dressing and Nando's hummus

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) branded Gary Jones' actions as 'extremely disturbing' Credit: West Mercia Police/CPS

A factory worker who "maliciously" tampered with food products used in restaurants including Nando's has been jailed.

Garry Jones, 38, worked for Harvey & Brockless Fine Food Company, a manufacturing firm based in Evesham, Worcestershire, that supplies restaurants across the country.

Customers include well-known names such as Nando's and The Ivy Collection Restaurants.

In his role at the factory, the 38-year-old worked as a 'picker' on the late shift and was responsible for collecting the required ingredients for the next day's cooking.

He was caught on CCTV contaminating salad dressing and Nando's hummus with rubber gloves, plastic bags and metal ring pulls when he was alone.

The company was made aware of the contamination, which affected dozens of products, on 28 October last year. No contaminated products were consumed by customers.

An internal investigation found multiple boxes had been tampered with.

The firm decided an employee must have been behind it 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.

CCTV footage also showed Jones mixing an unknown substance into raw ingredients to be prepared for production the following day.

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

Jones went on to break into a colleague's house through a window to steal a pink hairbrush. He admitted charges of contaminating goods and burglary.

Rubber gloves, plastic bags and metal ring pulls were found mixed into the products to be sold by restaurants Credit: CPS

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.

"When faced with the overwhelming evidence presented by the prosecution team Jones pleaded guilty to both charges.""I want to thank West Midlands Police and the prosecution team for building the strongest possible case, which saw him convicted and today sentenced."

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.

"While everyone at the company was shocked and appalled at what happened, we were also reassured at how our quick response meant that no contaminated products ever reached any end consumers.

"As soon as we became aware of the contaminations taking place, we recalled the entire batch of products involved and communicated openly with all our customers and with the Environmental Health Officer.

"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.

"Harvey & Brockless is pleased that the Worcester Environmental Health Officer noted the ‘totally professional way’ the company dealt with resolving the matter."

Jones was jailed for a total of three-and-a-half years following a hearing at Worcester Crown Court on Tuesday 3 October.

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