Birmingham City Council prosecution leads to £7.5m supermarket fine

A major supermarket has been fined £7.5m after Birmingham City Council brought a prosecution forward under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 after selling out of date food.

Inspections by the council’s Environmental Health Officers found the store selling food past its ‘use by’ date on several occasions and the supermarket pleaded guilty to this in three of its Birmingham stores.

The chain pleaded guilty to a total of 22 offences across the stores, which totalled 67 separate items, at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 21 September 2020.

The supermarket chain was ordered to pay a fine of £7.56m and £95.5k costs, as well as a £170 victim surcharge on 19 April 2021.

Officers visited the store in June 2015 after receiving a complaint from a member of the public and found six items on display beyond their use by date.

Following discussions between Birmingham City Council and the supermarket, officers were invited back to do another check in April 2016, where officers found various items on display that were out of date between 1 to 17 days.

Council Environmental Health Officers received a separate complaint in May 2017 and visited the store in June 2017, where they found 25 items displayed for sale beyond their ‘use by’ date.

On visiting the third store in June 2017, a number of products on display were past their ‘use by’ date, with mould being seen on a product.

Commenting, Birmingham City Council’s Head of Environmental Health, Mark Croxford said: “Supermarkets have a duty of care to ensure the food and drink they display for sale are in date and therefore safe to consume. However, visits by our officers and the public complaints show this is not always the case.

“The purpose of the ‘use-by’ date is to protect the health of the consumer. The manufacturers put the date on their products to guarantee the food is safe and ignoring this date completely undermines consumer safety.

“There were numerous missed opportunities to check the dates on these products and remove them from display and the fact incidents were found on several occasions, in different stores and over 14 months, is a major concern.

“This case offers a warning to all retailers to ensure their stock is in date and that if found to be breaching these regulations we will take action, as we have successfully done against one of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains.”

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