The UK Borders Agency arrested eight men during a raid at Joubère's processing site in Acton, West London, last week. Joubère must now prove it carried out the required checks on the men's documents when it hired them or it will be fined up to £10,000 for each illegal worker it employed.
The raid is part of a major crackdown by the UKBA on illegal labour in the food industry. In July, the agency conducted 584 raids on suspect operations, up 31% on last July, and retailers, wholesalers and suppliers were fined a total of £830,900 in the first six months of 2010.
"Illegal working has a serious impact on communities, taking jobs from those genuinely allowed to work," said immigration inspector Dick Stratton. "Businesses that operate outside the law will be found and punished."
Barry Denton, group operations director of Joubère's parent company Pasta Reale, insisted it had carried out the right checks and would co-operate with the investigation. "We undertake rigorous checks as part of our recruitment and are confident they will be found in order," he said, adding that only seven of the men were actual employees, with the other working for an agency.
The UKBA confirmed most of the men were suspected of using forged ID to gain employment.
Joubère's soup, sauces, stocks and gravies are available at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, Budgens, Selfridges and Sainsbury's. Pasta Reale also supplies Duchy Originals soup to Waitrose although it is produced in Dorset.