A fresh produce retailer has been found guilty of selling fruit and vegetables unfit for human consumption following a six month investigation by the Rural Payments Agency's Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) division.
Saheed Matloob, owner of Sheffield-based independent shop Kjawaja & Sons, was found guilty of 10 separate breaches of EU marketing standards for quality and labelling at Sheffield Magistrates' Court last week. Eight of the charges related to displaying and selling fresh produce of a "sub-standard" quality.
Among other items, the business sold rotten and shrivelled Golden Delicious and Braeburn apples, onions and courgettes, with several products not including the required country of origin sticker and providing misleading information.
Matloob was hit with a £100 fine for each of the eight quality offences while two labelling breaches resulted in a duo of £50 fines. The prosecution was also awarded full itemised prosecution costs of £3,620.62 resulting in a total liability of £4,520.62. A further £20 victim’s surcharge was also imposed.
Paul Caldwell, operational director of the RPA, said that the DEFRA organisation will continue to work "intensively" to ensure fresh produce is sold at the highest standards.
He said: “Consumers should be confident they are buying good quality fresh produce and we will not hesitate in taking all necessary steps to ensure that traders provide what they promise.
“The RPA’s Horticultural Marketing inspectors work intensively with traders to help and encourage them to follow the regulations – we pursue criminal prosecution only as a last resort."