Authorities confiscated what they described as a nauseating stash of rotten meat in the 47-year-old businessman’s Berlin warehouse in September 2006.
A native of Turkey, the man has lived in Berlin for 37 years and was described as one of the largest suppliers of meat for Germany’s ubiquitous döner kebabs – pitas stuffed with meat shaved off a rotating spit and often drenched in garlicky white sauce.
The man supplied meat to hundreds of döner stands in Berlin alone, authorities said. He was accused of storing spoiled meat and labelling goods of foreign origin as though they had come from Berlin or the surrounding federal state of Brandenburg.
He did not appear in court on Thursday and has told German media he is innocent and that his suppliers are to blame. He has the option of appealing the verdict.
The case is one of several that have shocked kebab-loving Germans in recent years. Last fall, a Bavarian producer admitted to shipping beef and turkey meat unsuitable for human consumption to kebab restaurants around the country.
Döner kebabs are sold in more than 1,800 stands around Berlin, and 30 companies in the city produce the meat skewers that roast slowly in the windows of those stands, Atasever Sir, president of the Association of Turkish Döner Makers in Europe, told the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost.
From corner stands to packing plants, kebab makers around the city felt the pinch when the “Döner King” case broke in fall 2006, Sir told the newspaper.
“Our sales volume fell 10 to 20 percent for a few weeks,” he said.