Tesco hit with £7.56m fine for selling out-of-date food
Complaints were issued to Birmingham City Council about food being sold after its use-by-date in three stores in the city. This led to food inspectors investigating the offending stores.
At the first store, a Tesco Express on Linden Road, Bournville, six items on display were found to be beyond their use-by-date. On a second visit to the same store months later a host of other items on display were out of date, including own-brand pizza, soup, potato salad and trifle, by as much as 17 days.
A visit to a Tesco Metro store on Bristol Road South, Rubery, led to 25 items being uncovered which were past their use-by-date, including scotch eggs, quiche and some children’s meals.
Paying the price
Tesco admitted to 22 breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations between 2016 and 2017, which totalled 67 different items.
It was ordered by magistrates to pay a fine of £7.56m, as well as £95,500 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
Mark Croxford, head of environmental health for Birmingham City Council, argued that use-by-dates are there to protect the health of consumers, and that ignoring these dates undermines consumer safety. He added that the fact these out-of-date items were found on several occasions, at different stores, across more than a year was a “major concern”.
Croxford continued: “This case offers a warning to all retailers to ensure their stock is in date and that if found to be breaching these regulations we will take action – as we have successfully done against one of the UK’s biggest supermarket chains.”
Taking immediate action
Tesco conducted a review of its date-checking procedures following the incidents, to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Its new date-checking processes have been externally approved by Hertfordshire County Council, on account of the firm’s headquarters being located within the county.
A spokesperson for Tesco said it was “disappointed” that a small number of out of date products were found on sale in three stores.
They continued: “The safety of our customers is always our priority and these incidents are not representative of the high standards of safety and quality we expect in Tesco stores.
“We took immediate action to address this at the time and we want to reassure our customers that we have robust procedures in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen”
The fine comes after a technical issue at Tesco caused some customers to be charged twice.