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Tesco fined £160,000 for out of date food

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Tesco was convicted at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Friday, 25 September 2020, after pleading guilty to having 46 food items on shelves at their store in Warfield, Bracknell, past their used by dates and deemed unsafe. Tesco was ordered to pay £160,000 in fines, a victim’s surcharge of £170 and costs of £7,756.50. Tesco was prosecuted following an investigation by officers from the Public Protection Partnership.

On 24 October 2017, Trading Standards conducted a routine inspection at the Tesco Warfield store. During the inspection, 46 items which had expired use by dates were found on display around the store and available for sale. Items included 30 Everyday Value Garlic Baguettes which were three days out of date, a skyr yogurt and two plain soya yoghurts, which were 15 days out of date. On checking the store’s documentation, records indicated that many of the checks were carried our incorrectly.

Pleading guilty, Tesco emphasised at the hearing that they have good procedures in place and these offences were from local failures in compliance with those procedures, which were promptly investigated and rectified. Tesco also stated that long-life fresh food products are checked every seven days and this includes products such as yogurts, therefore the most out-of-date products found, the yogurts, were in theory only missed on two or three occasions rather than up to 15 times. Food past its use-by date is deemed in law to be unsafe.

Commenting on the case, Cllr John Harrison, Executive Member for Culture, Delivery and Public Protection at Bracknell Forest Council, and Vice Chair of the Joint Public Protection Committee, said:

“The level of penalty indicates how seriously the court takes matters of this nature. It is imperative that food business operators have in place good systems and that they are robustly implemented to prevent these things happening. Having food on your shelves up to 15 days past its use–by date is completely unacceptable.”

Anyone wishing to report any matters of this nature or any other public protection matter can contact the service on 01635 503242.

Further information is available on The Public Protection Partnership website.