News story

Birmingham fruit and veg wholesaler prosecuted for failing to meet produce standards

Horticultural Marketing Inspectors' investigation leads to fines for wholesaler

Red peppers

A Birmingham wholesaler has been fined for offering for sale rotten fruit and vegetables that failed to meet minimum quality standards.

Four Season Exotic Limited was fined over £3,500 at Birmingham Magistrates Court, following an investigation by the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).

The hearing took place on 22 December 2015. A second hearing had been due to take place on 4 January 2016 but guilty pleas were accepted by the court on 31 December 2015.

Four Season Exotic Limited was fined £800 for the offences, £2,709.95 costs and a £40 victim surcharge.

An HMI inspection conducted on 25 February 2015 found two regulated displays in breach of the EU marketing rules for fresh produce quality which included orange sweet peppers found being offered for sale in a rotten condition.

Orange peppers

Paul Caldwell, RPA Operations Director said:

The RPA’s Horticultural Marketing Inspectors pursue criminal prosecution as a last resort when all other attempts to gain the compliance of traders have failed.

It is important that consumers have confidence and are reassured that they are buying good quality fresh produce which is accurately labelled. We will not hesitate in taking all necessary steps to ensure that they do.

The prosecution followed a series of risk-based enforcement visits and inspections, carried out by Horticultural Marketing Inspectors between February 2014 and February 2015.

Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with Four Season Exotic Limited director Jaffer Mohammad with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the company.

Background

  • Four Season Exotic Ltd is located at Stand 54, Birmingham Wholesale Market, Pershore Street, Birmingham, B5 6UN.

  • Horticultural Marketing Inspectors are part of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The team is responsible for the enforcement of the EU marketing standards for fresh fruit, vegetables, salad crops, nuts and cultivated mushroom, throughout England and Wales, wherever fresh produce is grown, imported, exported, bought or sold.

Published 12 January 2016