U.K.: Fruit seller prosecuted for stocking rotting produce
An investigation into an England-based fruit seller has led to a prosecution in the courts, after the discovery of quality defects and labeling offences in fresh produce items.
U.K. government agency The Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate carries out unannounced inspections on fruit and vegetable sellers throughout the country and only prosecutes in serious cases.
Following several inspections in Bristol, fruit seller Iftikar Hussain, who owns Rehan's Foodstore, was found to be selling a consignment of rotten lemons with white mold deposits which failed to meet the lowest marketable standard permitted by law.
A display of South African Cripps Pink apples were also found to be out of grade. This consignment showed signs of heavy bruising and scald skin defects.
Hussain was sentenced at Bristol Magistrates' Court earlier in September following the inspection which found 11 regulated displays breaking the EU marketing rules.
"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," says rural payments agency operations director Paul Caldwell.
"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 of labeling of the fresh produce placed on offer for sale met the required minimum standards permitted."
Hussain pleaded guilty to all 11 charges and was fined £5,000 (US$7,613) for the offenses, £500 (US$761) prosecution costs and a £120 (US$182) victim surcharge.
During sentencing, the magistrates commented these were very serious offenses and the defendant had a duty of care to his customers that he had disregarded, even when given the opportunity to make the required improvements.