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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Brothers sentenced for selling counterfeit cranberry sauce

On 24 July 2023 at Leeds Crown Court, Irfan Hanif Patel of Ravensthorpe Road, Dewsbury received a 12-month community order to fulfil 120 hours of unpaid work having pleaded guilty to offences under the Trademarks Act 1994 and a number of food hygiene offences, including failing to register a food business.

His brother, Mohammed Patel of Thornhill Street, Dewsbury received a 12-month community order to fulfil 100 hours of unpaid work having pleaded guilty to the same offences. Timetables under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for these offences were set by the court for each defendant and confiscation hearings in this matter will be heard at a future date where fines and prosecution costs will also be considered.

In December 2020 West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kirklees Council Environmental Health Team received intelligence for counterfeit Abel and Cole cranberry sauce being supplied throughout the country. This investigation involved the National Food Crime Unit, and other local authorities.

The product in question
Image: West Yorkshire Combined Service

The counterfeit cranberry sauce was purchased by Irfan Patel who was acting as a sole trader and was supplied to his brother Mohammed Patel, the director of Stock Up Direct Limited. Stock Up Direct Limited supplied over 1,000 jars to a wholesaler who then supplied to various food businesses around the country including two food businesses in the Kirklees area.

Neither brother had registered food businesses with Kirklees Council; therefore, were trading illegally and had never been inspected to ensure they met required food hygiene standards. Officers from West Yorkshire Trading Standards and Kirklees Council Food Safety Team conducted visits to food businesses supplied in Kirklees and obtained the jars for further examination.

Kirklees Council officers identified possible locations of Irfan and Mohammed’s businesses, visiting Irfan’s business, at the time located in Bretton Park Way, Dewsbury. Irfan said the stock was bought from another trader, who visited the premises and produced an invoice for a business which was untraceable.

Officers also visited the company Stock Up Direct Limited, simultaneously. A subsequent formal interview with Mohammed Patel, revealed he had never seen any stock that went though the company. The company was created as a side business for his brother, and he was involved in other larger companies.

The inspection of the Bretton Park Way premises revealed a warehouse with large quantities of food items. Irfan Patel was unable to provide any documentation to demonstrate the legal provenance of the foods and all food items were detained, pending further investigation. Having failed to demonstrate the food items were from lawful sources, Council Food Safety officers seized the food and applied to Kirklees Magistrates’ Court for a Food Condemnation Order in February 2021.

The order was granted due to concerns of the sourcing of foods from unregistered businesses, where no regulatory checks had taken place to ensure safe storage, handling or distribution. Furthermore, the origin was unknown so potentially could be linked to illegal food activities such as bringing food destined for waste back into the food chain. Consequently, all seized food items were destroyed.

A sample of the suspected counterfeit sauce was submitted to the Public Analyst, who concluded that the sauce was not genuine Abel and Cole cranberry sauce. The trademark representative for Abel and Cole confirmed the cranberry sauce bore a label which was a copy of the Abel and Cole registered trademark.

Cabinet member for Culture and Greener Kirklees, Naheed Mather. Image: Kirklees City Council

In a joint statement, Trading Standards Manager, David Strover and Councillor Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Culture and Greener Kirklees at Kirklees Council said,
“Businesses need to ensure they are registered with the local authority 28 days before beginning to operate. They must have a traceability system in place and to only purchase stock they believe is legitimate by conducting checks. Supplying food that is counterfeit can pose serious risks to the community as it is often made in an uncontrolled environment with uncontrolled processes and ingredients.

This is not the first time, Irfan Hanif Patel has gotten in trouble for dealing with products of questionable quality, a news report by Yorkshire live dated 21 January 2008, said that Mr Patel was convicted and sentenced for allegedly selling expired goods to retailers, by faking the use by date.

Irfan Hanif Patel is also an active director at Dewsbury based ‘Kiddies Kingdom’.

His brother, Mohammed Patel, as per declarations published on the Gov.uk website is an active director in five different businesses, including ‘Kiddies Kingdom’, ‘Diamond Real estate’, ‘Dimple App’ and ‘Bretton Real Estate’ that are located in Dewsbury.

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