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Supermarket giant fined for stocking out of date food

Pangbourne Co-op had food as old as ten days out of date on its shelves

A food retailer has been fined £75,000 after supermarket giant Co-operative Food stocked out-of-date food, some as long as ten days old, at its Pangbourne branch.

Food Retailer Operations Ltd had pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing for stocking the “unsafe” items at the Pangbourne shop, following an unannounced inspection last year.

The items ranged from 1 day past their use-by-date to ten days – in the case of two Yorkshire Provender Chicken and Butternut Soup with Lentil and Cumin.

At the sentencing hearing on August 21 at Reading Crown Court recorder Rhodes QC referred to “systemic and management failings” in how the store operated.

He said that there was “nothing more than partial or casual compliance with the company policy and procedure” and a more rigorous compliance regime may have identified and highlighted human error and management failings.

At an earlier hearing at Newbury Magistrates’ Court in which the company pleaded guilty the court heard how following an unannounced inspection in March 2015 officers found a number of food items that were unsafe as use-by-dates had expired.

Processes and management were both criticised and Sarah Clarke, prosecuting, said: “Store colleagues should have completed processes in line with the procedures and staff should have raised this to the manager.”

Following the verdict West Berkshire Council’s executive member for public protection Marcus Franks said: “The level of penalty indicates the seriousness that the court takes maters of this nature.

“It is imperative that the food business operators have in place good systems and that they are robustly implemented to prevent these things happening.

“Having food on shelves up to ten days past its use-by date is completely unacceptable.”

The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £5,400 in costs and £120 victim surcharge.

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