Food Firm Poisons Fish

Published on: 3 Mar 2017

A major food firm has been fined £128,000 for pollution which poisoned and killed 200 fish.

The Environment Agency discovered the pollution and passed costs for the clean-up onto the firm, which has been described as a ‘leader in the global food industry’.

Fish death incident

The River CamThe incident reportedly took place in June 2014, and resulted in the deaths of more than 200 fish in the local waterways. The River Cam in Gloucestershire was affected by the pollution from a site owned by Kerry Ingredients UK Limited.

The Environment Agency accepted the offer of an enforcement undertaking of £127, 975, which will be split amongst several agencies to repay the money spent on cleaning up the river. These are the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, which is getting £40,151; the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which has been awarded £19,766; the Severn Rivers Trust, at £52,758; and the Bristol Zoological Society, to the amount of £15,000.

This is a serious enforcement undertaking, and shows the Environment Agency’s newest powers. They were granted this extended ability in 2015 so that they would be able to target a far wider range of offences, including targets in the production and manufacturing sector of the food industry.

They have started to use this enforcement method to get restoration done as quickly as possible, returning the local environment to the state that it was in before the incident happened. They are also looking to ensure that the companies in question improve their practices for the future, and by avoiding long court cases, can quickly get the fines paid and move on. In the most serious cases, however, prosecution to the full extent of the law will still be undertaken.

The Kerry incident is just one which was recently revealed as part of a larger group of enforcement actions undertaken by the Environment Agency. They add up to more than £1.5 million which will be given to charities who run projects to benefit wildlife and the environment on a local or national scale.

More enforcements taken

Peter Kellett, legal Director for the Environment Agency said: “We take pollution incidents very seriously and the payments of £1.5 million we're announcing today are the result of our firm but fair enforcement action and will benefit people and the environment across the country. Enforcement Undertakings allow those who commit offences to restore the environment and to take steps to prevent a recurrence. When appropriate, they allow a quicker resolution than a prosecution and help offenders who are prepared to take responsibility for their actions to put things right with their local communities."

Fish in RiverThe payout as a whole has been quoted as £1,535,992.25, and has been raised through a number of different offences related to the environment. Local projects will be using the money to make a direct impact: cleaning up stretches of rivers, restocking rivers where the local population of native species has been all but wiped out, and investing in parkland which local residents can enjoy.

The companies fined from the food and drink industry include:

  • Filippo Berio UK Limited: Fined £253,906.91 for failing to recycle waste packaging
  • Heineken UK Limited: Fined £127,975 for causing a pollution incident which resulted in fish deaths

A Kerry Ingredients UK spokesman said: " We regret this incident caused by a cleaning contractor and have implemented corrective actions and introduced new operating procedures to mitigate such risks. As reported, we also made a financial contribution to local charities."

It seems that more needs to be done by those with food careers who can affect procedure to increase health and safety measures as regards the outside environment