A BURY meat wholesaler and distributor supplied customers with frozen chicken that was "only fit for pet food".

B Davies and Son Ltd, based in Samuel Street, has been prosecuted after supplying the"out of date" meat intended for a food business based in Morecambe.

As it was being delivered environmental health staff from Lancaster City Council seized the frozen chicken consignment, and officers became suspicious of the labels on the boxes.

On further inspection the labels proved to be fake and the boxes were found to have been relabelled to make the meat appear two years fresher than it was.

The meat's original manufacturer confirmed that the chicken had been sold to B Davies and Son Ltd as "out of date", at a considerably discounted price, and that they had not authorised the relabelling.

A lengthy and complex multi-agency investigation was then launched, involving several local authorities in close collaboration with the National Food Crime Unit.

During their enquiries, investigators claim B Davies and Son Ltd were uncooperative and in the early stages provided misleading information, suggesting the meat had originated with a different supplier.

However, Lancaster City Council successfully prosecuted the firm, which admitted five charges under the Food Standard and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 when it appeared in court on January 8.

The charges included selling food unfit for human consumption and misleading by mislabelling.

B Davies and Son Ltd was fined £50,000 and a further £20,000 in costs.

Councillor Andrew Warriner, Lancaster City Council cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health, said: “The public will be horrified to hear that this business was prepared to recklessly endanger the health of consumers by selling unfit food in such a misleading way.

“This company bought cheap out of date food that was only fit for pet food, and then re-labelled it to bring it back in date, hugely increasing the profit margin.

“Although the company, B Davies and Son, is not a Lancaster business, we will not hesitate to pursue businesses that mislead our local food retailers and put our residents and visitors at risk.”

“This should be a severe warning to other businesses who might be thinking they can put profit over consumer rights and safety.”

On the company's website, B Davies and Son Ltd advertise themselves as "masters of superior meat", whose mission is to provide superiour quality products and services from the best suppliers in the UK and the world.

They further claim their "unique and professional approach delivers excellent products to our customers".

The website says: "Brian Davies is a successful family-owned company that has over 30 years experience in the Meat and Poultry industry, supplying major supermarket chains and respected wholesalers within the UK.

"We give a fast and friendly, unrivalled level of service within the industry and with our comprehensive knowledge of butchery and the provisions trade, we can help you get the best from our products."

B Davies and Son Ltd declined to comment.