Tesco fined £7.5 million for out-of-date food sales

Tesco has been fined £7.5 million ($10.4 million) for selling food past its use-by date at three stores in an English city.

The retailer pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court in September 2020 to 22 offenses and was fined this past week. The violations included 67 items of out-of-date food being on sale between 2015 and 2017 in three store locations.

The first incident at a Tesco Express saw Birmingham City Council environmental health officers (EHOs) visit the store in June 2015 after a public complaint and they found six items on display beyond their use-by dates.

They were invited back for another check in April 2016 when they found various items including own-brand pizza, soup, pork belly slices, potato salad, trifle and flavoured milk, out of date for between one to 17 days.

Missed opportunities to remove products

A separate complaint in May 2017 led to a visit to a Tesco Metro store in June where 25 items displayed for sale beyond their use-by dates were discovered including own-brand scotch eggs, quiche lorraine, and Little Dish chicken and vegetable risotto and pasta bolognaise which were children’s meals.

At the third store, own-brand falafel and hummus wraps, grapes and strawberries, and berry medley pots were on sale past their use-by dates in June 2017 with mold found on grapes.

Mark Croxford, Head of Environmental Health for Birmingham City Council, said the case sends a warning to retailers to ensure their stock is in date and if they are found to be breaching the rules action will be taken.

“The manufacturers put the date on their products to guarantee the food is safe and ignoring this date completely undermines consumer safety. There were numerous missed opportunities to check the dates on these products and remove them from display – and the fact incidents were found on several occasions, in different stores and over 14 months, is a major concern.”

Judge Shamim Qureshi said the decision from Tesco to invite EHOs back in 2016 after the 2015 incident was an “own goal” because out-of-date items were found again.

Richard Reichman, a partner at BCL Solicitors LLP, said this is a surprisingly common feature in food safety cases and urged businesses to be careful when inviting a regulator back to re-visit and not to do so prematurely.

SOURCE:  Food Safety News