Horticultural Marketing Inspectors' investigation leads to fines for shopkeeper
A North London shopkeeper has been fined for offering for sale and selling rotten fruit and vegetables that failed to meet minimum quality standards.
Joint Directors Mr and Mrs S. Versani, and their company Yarok (Edgware) Ltd were fined a total of £3,690 at Hendon Magistrates Court on 15 December 2015, following an eight month investigation by the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).
Mr and Mrs Versani entered individual guilty pleas as well as admitting culpability on behalf of the company. They were each fined £250 for the offences, £680 costs and a £25 victim surcharge. The company was fined £1000 for the offences, £680 costs and a £100 victim surcharge.
An HMI inspection conducted on 15 April 2015 found 27 regulated displays in breach of the EU marketing rules for fresh produce quality and labelling which included loose garlic and pre-packed conference pears found being offered for sale in a rotten condition.
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 June 2014 and April 2015.
Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with the firm’s Directors and staff with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the company.
Yarok (Edgware) Ltd is located at 1 Lanson House, Whitchurch Lane, Edgware, Middlesex HA8 6JZ.
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.