Internal Sabotage & Deliberate tampering - Would your food company be prepared?

A robust crisis management policy should consider potential risks to the food business and this should also include internal malicious tampering.

This month a factory worker, Garry Jones, who put plastic bags, rubber gloves and ring pulls in food, hummus and salad dressings, destined for a range of restaurants - including Nandos - has been jailed for 3 years.

It was found that Mr Jones "knowingly and maliciously" contaminated the products while working at a Worcestershire food manufacturer, Harvey & Brockless.

Manufacturer Harvey & Brockless said no products that were tampered with in October 2022 reached "end" customers.

From 28 October 2022, the company was made aware dozens of its products which are supplied to restaurants across the country had been contaminated with the gloves, plastic bags and metal ring pulls.  An internal investigation revealed other boxes had also been tampered with, leading to the firm concluding an employee was responsible and police were alerted. 

The use of a metal detector on products before they left the kitchen area meant any contamination could not have taken place during production and must have occurred in the storage area of the factory, the CPS said.

CCTV cameras inside the factory went to show Mr Jones deliberately tampering with tubs of hummus and salad dressings when he was alone.

Harvey & Brockless has said the vast majority of the products involved did not reach their destination, adding "any items that did were quickly returned before reaching the end consumer".  "This swift action meant all end consumers were fully protected from any contaminated products," it added.

Following the incident, the manufacturer said it had invested in extra CCTV cameras to ensure all areas were "fully covered".

Mehree Kamranfar, senior crown prosecutor for CPS West Midlands, said the case was "extremely disturbing."

"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."

Crisis Management –

All businesses, no matter what size are likely to experience a crisis situation; it is a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’.

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