Bruce Arabsky loses court battle over chicken labelled as turkey
Chicken processor has history with CFIA over mislabelled poultry
Bruce Arabsky has lost his argument in B.C. Supreme Court that his superiors directed him to mislabel chicken bound for Afghanistan as turkey, while documents from 2009 and 2006 show his involvement in other questionable poultry practices.
In December 2014, Arabsky was convicted of six counts of contravening section 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act, which makes it illegal to label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials were tipped off in 2010 and discovered the mislabelled poultry in random searches. Arabsky was ordered to pay a $12,000 fine.
At trial, the Crown simply did not believe Mr. Arabsky's statements that he acted on directions from his superiors.
Falsified turkey exports
"There is absolutely no basis in law (nor, apparently, in fact) for Mr. Arabsky to attack the Crown's decision to prosecute him rather than the company," said the ruling.
Crown prosecutors presented documents that showed one of Mr. Arabsky's companies had purported to sell large numbers of turkeys to Superior Poultry, for which Mr. Arabsky's company was paid more than $1.9 million.
Mr. Arabsky admitted in court that his company did not produce turkeys, and did not deliver any to Superior.
The Crown suggested that the falsified turkey exports were part of a scheme to cover up a fraud committed on the company.
Mr. Arabsky claimed there was no connection between the fraudulent turkey sales and the attempt to export chicken as turkey.
"We're not immune," said Michel Benoit with B.C. Turkey Farmers, referring to unscrupulous practices within the industry — adding that in the past ten years, the case involving Arabsky is the first he's seen.
"At the end of the day, there was not any real negative impacts on the industry," said Benoit. "We have the right controls in place ... the consumer can rest in peace ... we are out there looking after their interests."
In 2006, Arabsky was fined $100,000 after he pleaded guilty in B.C. provincial court to four counts of contravening the Meat Inspection Act.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said at the time that Arabsky falsely claimed that poultry destined for South Africa had been tested for salmonella.
The CFIA alleged that, over two years, Arabsky submitted 31 falsified testing certificates.
In 2009, he also pleaded guilty for violating health of animal regulations in the transportation of live chickens from Saskatchewan to British Columbia.
A large number of the birds were found dead upon arrival by CFIA inspectors, and Arabsky and Prairie Pride Natural Foods Ltd. were ultimately fined $440,000 for violations.
When contacted by CBC News, Arabsky's legal counsel Daniel Le Dressay declined to comment for this story.
with files from Lien Yeung