Man jailed for running meat operation from car wash

Man jailed for running meat operation from car wash

by Sue Jones
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A man has been given a 10-month jail sentence in England after pleading guilty to 39 food hygiene offences.

Gent Jakupi of New Park St, Devizes and Andover Road, Ludgershall, pleaded guilty at Swindon Magistrates Court in October and was sentenced recently at Swindon Crown Court.

Charges relate to the conditions found and the manner in which meat cutting was being done following raids by environmental health officers, Wiltshire Police and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) at Jakupi’s two hand car washing businesses in October and November 2020. The raids led to emergency closures by Wiltshire Council officers.

Jakupi initially denied he had been cutting meat during the first raid in Devizes, telling officers he was using the bandsaw to cut wood, despite meat debris being visible on the machine. He then suggested this was the first time he had done such a thing. CCTV footage seized during that raid showed that unhygienic meat cutting had been carried out for several weeks.

Despite the first emergency closure and seizure of meat during the initial raid and advice to the defendant of the need to obtain FSA approval for any future meat cutting, surveillance revealed Jakupi had moved the activity to his Ludgershall site without the necessary permissions or hygiene precautions, resulting in the second search.

NFCU involvement
Ashley O’Neill, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for public health and protection, said he hoped the sentence acted as a warning to others that such behavior will not be tolerated.

“I am pleased that we were able to pursue a conviction in this case, as it was one of the worst cases that our food and safety team have dealt with and the defendant concerned was putting the public at serious risk. This was a widespread meat distribution operation across the country,” he said.

Wiltshire Council officers also obtained a prohibition order preventing Jakupi from running a food business.

In late 2020, environmental health officers from the council removed more than 2 tons of fresh meat, including beef, lamb and goat from sale. In October, 2.7 tons of meat was seized and later destroyed as it was judged unfit for human consumption.

Officers found a lack of clean food rooms, no hot water supply, no washing facilities, no control of pests or basic welfare facilities for food handlers at the car wash sites.

Steve Smith, head of outreach and prevention at the National Food Crime Unit (NFCU), said the FSA issued a notice to local authorities to ensure that meat already sold was recalled.

“This has meant that the significant food safety risks posed to consumers by the defendant’s activity and online sales across the UK were quickly identified, traced, and meat removed from sale. The extensive number of food offences committed by the defendant had the potential to put consumers and their families at serious risk,” he said.

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