News story

London fruit and veg retailer fined after failing to meet fresh produce marketing standards

Retailer fined following HMI investigation

Runner beans label which should include country of origin.

A London based retailer has been fined for displaying, offering for sale and selling fruit and vegetables that failed to meet the statutory labelling requirements.

Paul Wheeler, Director of Paul Wheeler (Fresh Supplies) Ltd based at Borough Market was fined £2,100 at Camberwell Magistrates Court on 17 February 2016, following a 15 month long investigation by the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).

A final HMI inspection conducted on 14 July 2015, found 18 displays in breach of the EU marketing rules for fresh produce labelling which included products found on display and on offer for sale to the public without the required country of origin and where required, a variety and quality class.

In court Mr Wheeler pleaded guilty to 18 separate labelling offences and was ordered to pay a further £1,770 prosecution and investigation costs bringing the total penalty awarded (including £40 victim surcharge) to £3,910.

In sentencing, the Chair of the Court pointed out that these were serious offences and Mr Wheeler could not ignore such legislation.

Paul Caldwell, RPA Operations Director said:

Concerted efforts were made by HMI to work closely with Mr Wheeler and his staff with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the business.

HMI relies on face-to-face inspections to provide advice and guidance to retailers such as Mr Wheeler, to help them fully appreciate the value of adopting clear and transparent labelling to help reassure customers of the quality and origin of the fresh produce they are buying.

Unfortunately such advice is not always heeded and when all other options have been exhausted we will resort to the use of criminal sanction to bring about a required change in behaviour.

Background

  • Paul Wheeler (Fresh Supplies) Ltd, operates at Borough Market in Central London at Unit 14,Three Crown Square, Southwark, London SE1 1TL.

  • Horticultural Marketing Inspectors are part of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The inspectors are 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 24 February 2016