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£6,000 for life threatening labelling offence

Stuart Spear08/02/2017 - 16:41

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Guilty of mislabelling the food supplied
Guilty of mislabelling the food supplied

A London-based cash and carry has been fined £6,000 for selling almond mix powder that contained peanut.

EHOs from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s prosecuted Soms Uddin Shahin and Sima Enterprise Limited of Newham for food labelling and Food Information Regulation offences.

The accused were found to have risked the lives of customers after applying an ‘almond mix powder’ food label onto a 10kg box of ‘peanut and almond mix’ product and selling it to a Southend restaurant in December 2015.

EHOs discovered the anomaly when carrying out a national sampling programme funded by the Food Standards Agency.

A sampling officer visited a local restaurant in October 2015 and purchased a ‘peanut-free’ chicken passanda for analysis. This showed that the nut content of the meal was almost entirely derived from peanut rather than almond.  

Analysis of the sample taken from the product showed there was more than two thirds peanut protein and less than one third almond protein in it. The restaurant that ordered the box of almond powder was oblivious to its peanut content. 

The defendants pleaded guilty to two food offences. One under the Food Safety Act 1990 (as amended) Section 15 (1)(b) and (3) selling food with a label printed on the container which is likely to mislead the purchaser as to the nature of the food.

The other under Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 Chapter IV Article 9(1)(c) and Annex II; The Food Information Regulations 2014 Regulation 10 (1)(a) failure to indicate ‘Peanut’ as an allergenic ingredient on the product label or on a commercial document referring to the food

Cllr Flewitt, executive councillor for housing, planning and public protection services, said: ‘Southend’s environmental health team’s food sampling shone light on what was effectively a ticking time bomb. As around five in every 10,000 people in the UK are thought to have a peanut allergy, there’s no knowing how many people this intervention has spared from sickness or even death.

‘This prosecution – and the size of the fine and costs ordered by the court – reflects the severity of the offence. It sends a clear message to reckless operators within the food industry that imperilling the lives of the public bears a hefty price.’

The defendants were found to have risked lives by mislabelling food, thereby concealing its allergenic peanut content. Mr Shahin was fined £1,224 and £120 victim surcharge. Sims Enterprise was fined £2,083 and £130 victim surcharge plus £2,720 costs.

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