In the first case, Gara Amin, who owns Azade Mini Market at Firth Park Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty at Sheffield Magistrates to placing 40 items of food on sale with expired use by dates.
Mr Amin, 38, of Hinde House Lane was fined a total of £1,395.
A second prosecution was taken against International Grocery, of Bellhouse Road, Sheffield. Proprietor Khaled Hamad Ali of Simpson Road, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to four offences of supplying food with expired ‘use by’ dates and another offence of failing to register as a food business. He was fined a total of £1,277. Both businesses were visited by Trading Standards Officers following complaints from consumers about Sheffield retailers suspected of selling out of date food.
On 22 June last year, officers from Sheffield Trading Standards Service at Sheffield City Council visited Azade Mini Market. Officers seized 69 food items which were incorrectly labelled. The food consisted mainly of chilled cooked meats, cheeses and cooked fish and ranged from one to 18 days past the use by date. On 13 July last year, a visit was made to International Grocery where nine items of food were found on sale beyond the use by date, with one item dating nearly two months out of date.
During the survey, 13 other food businesses were inspected including supermarkets, grocers and convenience stores. In total, more than 80 items of food with incorrect labelling were seized.
Councillor Lewis Dagnall, Cabinet Member for Environment and Streetscene at Sheffield City Council, said:
“The Council has an important responsibility to act to protect public health in all walks of life. Selling goods past their use-by date is dangerous not only for the people who buy these items unknowingly, but to other customers and staff who use the facilities.
“Some of these items were so out of date, there was simply no excuse. The conclusion of these cases sends an important message to traders about their responsibilities, and that short-term profit should never be put ahead of health and safety.”
Under food legislation, most food must be marked with a durability date.
This will be either be a best before date for food which does not deteriorate quickly, or a use by date. Foods which usually bear a use by date include products such as cooked meats, cream and cheeses.
Because of the nature of these products that are often chilled and eaten without further cooking, they can be harmful when they deteriorate. Once the use by date expires, they are deemed unsafe. A trader commits an offence if he displays for sale unsafe food. It is essential that traders remove out of date food from display.
Failure to remove from sale products past their use by date creates the possibility that customers will purchase and eat food which is unsafe. This can create a potential hazard for any consumer but can be particularly severe for some sections of the population such as the elderly, the young and those with low immunity. Failure of a business to comply with the law can have potentially lethal consequences.