Probe into ice cream tampering at North Yorkshire firm ‘still open’, say police

Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn
Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn
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A LEADING Yorkshire ice cream company has installed cameras on its production line and made staff wear uniforms without pockets after products it supplied to Tesco were found to contain pain-relief tablets.

Tesco recalled boxes of its own-brand chocolate and nut ice cream cones supplied by R&R Ice Cream, one of the largest ice cream producers in Europe, after the painkillers were found in two individual cones last year.

Since then, detectives from North Yorkshire Police’s major crime unit have been called to the company’s base in Leeming Bar, near Northallerton, to investigate the suspected deliberate contamination but say so far “there is insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution”.

A spokesman for R&R, which produces leading brands including Cadbury Dairy Milk, Oreo, Milka, KitKat, YooMoo frozen yogurt and Kelly’s of Cornwall, said the investigation was ongoing into “into an isolated incident where only two contaminated cones were found”.

He said: “Consumer safety is of utmost importance to the company. Following this incident, enhanced security and food safety procedures were implemented including the installation of cameras on the production line and the introduction of workwear without pockets.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said the force was still treating the contamination as a criminal act. She said: “Extensive enquiries have been carried out by North Yorkshire Police however, at this stage, there is insufficient evidence to pursue a criminal prosecution. The investigation remains open.”

Tesco recalled its own-brand Chocolate and Nut Ice Cream Cones late last year after two separate packets delivered to two different Tesco stores were found to contain pain relief tablets, with a tablet found in one cone in each packet.

Speaking last December, Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who leads the major crime unit, said the possibility of malicious contamination was “one of the lines of inquiry” and that “my gut instinct is that it was a deliberate contamination”.

He said: “It is a challenging investigation, because what we have got to try and identify was how and where and who was responsible for that contamination, and was it deliberate contamination. With the process chain of all the ingredients that go into making an item like that, we don’t know for sure where that contamination took place.” He added: “If it was felt to be accidental from the outset, the resources we have put into it probably wouldn’t be to the scale we have done.”

The case is one of a number of investigations taken on by the major crime unit since it was expanded at a cost of £300,000 in October, giving it 31 officers and staff.

R&R, which had its 25th anniversary in 2010, describes itself as one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of ice-cream in Europe with major market shares in the UK, Germany, France and Poland and a significant presence in many other markets.