A slaughterhouse boss and his manager have been fined and jailed, respectively, after their conviction in connection with the horsemeat scandal.
Slaughterhouse boss Peter Boddy, 65, has been fined £8,000 and manager David Moss, 54, has been given a four-month suspended prison sentence at London’s Southwark Crown Court after being convicted in connection with the scandal.
Peter Boddy, 65, sold 55 horse carcasses to “Italian restaurants” and scores more without keeping a note of the purchaser, and accepted a further 17 into his business without documenting the supplier.
He admitted one count of failing to abide by EU meat traceability regulations and pleaded guilty to failing to comply with food traceability regulations which state the source of meat should be traceable from pasture to plate.
The manager of the slaughterhouse in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, David Moss, admitted forging an invoice concerning the number of horses sold in a transaction on February 12 2013.
Prosecutor Adam Payter told London’s Southwark Crown Court the controversy had “undermined confidence in the meat industry”.
He continued: “In January 2013 following the so-called horsemeat scandal, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) began to conduct inspections of abattoirs known to slaughter horses.”
He explained that it was a requirement for slaughterhouses to keep a record of where they bought their meat, and also of where they sold it.
“The purpose of that is so that members of the public who buy food products can know where their food has come from, and to ensure that it can be recalled if there are any issues with the safety of the food,” Mr Payter said.
The court heard that in early February 2013 the FSA attended Boddy’s slaughterhouse and requested documents in relation to the traceability of horse carcasses at the business during 2012.
Initial documents, provided by Moss, were considered “inadequate” and did not show where a number of horses had gone or where they had come from.
However, on that occasion Moss – who the prosecution say was acting as manager on the day – conceded that some of the horsemeat had been sold “cash in hand”.
In order to clarify the situation, the FSA asked for delivery notes or invoices to be provided, and a few days later Moss provided a forged invoice.
Mr Payter said: “The prosecution say that in relation to horses that were slaughtered on the site, there were FSA records for those; in relation to other horses that were not in the FSA records – there were not proper records for those horses.
“It can’t be said where they were slaughtered, when they were slaughtered, whether it was on site – but horsemeat passed through Peter Boddy’s slaughterhouse without being properly documented.”
He added that although the prosecution could not say whether the meat had ended up in the human food chain, “there would be no cause to cover up the provenance or destination of horsemeat unless there was something underlying wrong with that horsemeat.”
During the investigation Boddy claimed that two of the names listed on the invoices, De Monza and Mario, were Italian restaurants in Manchester and Leeds that had purchased horsemeat.
Mr Payter said: “Fifty-five horses were slaughtered at the site – 37 of those horses were sent to customers who were recorded in the records as De Monzo and Mario in Leeds or Manchester. ”
In interview, Mr Boddy suggested that De Monza and Mario were Italian restaurants. “However, when inquiries were made of the relevant councils, nothing was found that confirmed the existence of businesses with those names.”
Christopher James, defending Boddy, said his client had been “reckless”, but that his failings had not been deliberate, and the meat had only ever been offered as horsemeat.
He added: “There is little or no risk to the public health from the failings that had been established there.”