The long-established Shetland salmon sales company Framgord has gone out of business after being caught up in what has been described as one of Scotland’s biggest food fraud investigations.
A lengthy civil court action saw Aberdeen City Council granted permission on Tuesday to destroy 207 tonnes of frozen salmon by-products destined for eastern Europe which was seized in a cold store in the city in June.
The store of unlabelled or wrongly labelled salmon trimmings, worth about £70,000, was mostly backbones but also heads, tails and belly flaps, commonly used in canning, fish cakes, snacks and soups.
Environmental health officials said Framgord was using labels previously approved for premises used by its offshoot company SCAF which were no longer legitimate because it had ceased processing.
Environmental health team leader Ivor Churcher said his officials found large quantities of fish which breached the rules. “Officers established that the approved identification mark was continuing to be used to export product to Russia although the approval did no longer exist.”
But Framgord managing director Frank Johnson told The Shetland Times it was nothing more than “a technical matter” and “a misunderstanding”. Yet the court action had been “the final straw” in bringing down his 27-year-old company.
He said one of the city council’s environmental health officers had told Framgord last November it could continue to use the mark although SCAF was changing its product line. But in June the department then said it should not be using the mark.
The fish condemnation order from Aberdeen Sheriff Court came through the same day that receivers were called in at Framgord’s offices at the North Ness in Lerwick, resulting in 11 people losing their jobs.
Other factors blamed for Framgord’s collapse are a slump in its trade in organic salmon due to a lack of continuity in supplies which left it no longer able to afford debt repayments to the bank.
The company was once one of Shetland’s larger employers with 169 employees working on international sales, five salmon farms, two hatcheries and the Lerwick Fish Traders factory.
Mr Johnson said today: “Regrettably there is no recourse left but to close the business. It’s immensely sad for a company of this vintage. It’s a shame for the staff and a shame for all the connections made over the years.”
Full story in The Shetland Times.