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Jail for organic food scam

By David Visick , 23-Sep-2009
Last updated the 23-Sep-2009 at 13:19 GMT

The director of a British food supplier which falsely described its products as organic has been jailed for more than two years, in what is believed to be the first custodial sentence for organic food fraud in the UK.

Neil Andrew Stansfield of Newnham in Northamptonshire was one of three members of the staff of One Food Limited to be prosecuted by Northamptonshire County Council trading standards with the support of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). He received a 27-month sentence.

The company is believed to have sold over £500,000 of product mis-described as organic, a scam which came to the attention of Trading Standards in 2007 when it learned that the company had been receiving regular deliveries of what were suspected to be non-organic ingredients.

Test purchases revealed that salmon described as organic by One Food contained synthetic astaxanthin - an additive that is used in feed for farmed salmon to enhance colour

During the investigation, former employees of the company stated that the company directors made regular purchases of non-organic ingredients from local supermarkets. They also said they had been asked to remove non-organic ingredients from their original packaging to avoid their detection on the company’s premises.

Trading Standards stated that over the period of offending, approximately 28% of the ingredients purchased by the business were not organic. The company ceased trading in March 2008.

After the verdict Nottinghamshire county councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: "It is deeply ironic that the initials of this company - ONE - stood for organic, natural and ethical, when clearly the foods being supplied were anything but.

"The people behind One Food Limited have been responsible for ripping off both consumers and businesses alike and I am very pleased that Trading Standards have pursued this lengthy and often complicated investigation to achieve today’s result.”

The FSA’s head of enforcement Sarah Appleby, added: “I am delighted that justice has been done. The FSA takes all food fraud very seriously and this is a perfect example of the FSA working closely with local authorities to stamp it out.”

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