Field Farm Fresh cries foul over fine

A company fined £35,000 for selling Australian meat as British beef is to appeal against its conviction of 15 offences and the level of fine imposed by Kendal Magistrates Court.

Field Farm Fresh is claiming it was a victim of sabotage by a rogue employee. Its lawyers Burges Salmon told MTJ the Trade Descriptions Act provides a defence in the event that a company incurs a liability under the Act as a consequence of the acts of a rogue employee and that it believes the magistrate erred in finding that Field Farm Fresh could not take advantage of this defence. "We are in the process of appealing the decision of the magistrate," said Jennifer Alexander of Burges Salmon.

Field Farm Fresh also dispute Cumbrian Trading Standards statement it could not find evidence of any systems that could verify the origin of any of the beef being sold by the firm. It claims that two years ago, when the incident relating to the prosecution occurred, the firm could meet the legal requirements for traceabilty and that unfortunately an employee took meat from the foreign section of beef and sold it as British beef.

Since then the company said it has introduced an updated computer which exceeds these obligations and no longer deals in any foreign beef.

Managing director David Morgan said his company had been set up to produce locally sourced meat. "We never knowingly sold any imported beef. It would fly in the face of everything we stand for.