A Bristol shopkeeper has been prosecuted for selling rotten fruit and vegetables with obvious signs of mould on them, as well as labelling offences.
An investigation by the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) found that produce at Iftikar Hussain’s shop – Rehan’s Foodstore & Off Licence in Easton, Bristol – was defective. HMI inspectors also uncovered labelling offences in fruit and vegetables.
The court heard that, in February 2015, HMI inspectors found 11 regulated displays at the shop were breaking EU marketing rules relating to fresh produce quality and labelling.
A display of lemons on offer for sale had “blatant rot and white mould deposits” – and the inspectors found the consignment failed to meet the lowest marketable standard permitted for the defect of 26% rots.
A display showing “out of grade”' South African Cripps Pink apples also failed to meet the lowest marketable standard permitted of 10% rots, 8% heavy bruise and 7% scald skin defects.
At Bristol Magistrates’ Court, Iftikar Hussain of Rehan’s Foodstore & Off Licence, 196 Stapleton Road, Easton in Bristol pleaded guilty to 11 charges.
He was fined £5,000 for the offences, £500 in prosecution costs and an £120 victim surcharge.
On sentencing, the magistrates commented that the offences were very serious – adding that Mr Hussain had a duty of care to his customers which he had disregarded.
The court was told he had been given every opportunity to make the required improvements.
After sentencing, Rural Payments Agency Operations Director Paul Caldwell said:
“Prosecution is only used as a last resort and we will always try to gain statutory compliance with the marketing standard regulations through advice, guidance and – where possible – with the full cooperation and support from the business itself.
“In this particular case, the prosecution followed a series of risk-based inspection visits to the shop where advice and guidance on compliance was offered.
“During this time, the owner consistently failed to meet his statutory responsibility – and failed to ensure that the quality and labelling of the fresh produce placed on offer for sale met the required minimum standards permitted.”
The HMI is part of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The Inspectorate is responsible for the enforcement of the EU marketing standards for fresh fruit, vegetables, salad crops, nuts and cultivated mushroom throughout England and Wales, wherever fresh produce is grown, imported, exported, bought or sold.
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