Horticultural Marketing Inspectors investigation leads to charges for shopkeeper
A Nottingham based shopkeeper has been fined for displaying, offering for sale and selling rotten fruit and vegetables that failed to meet the minimum quality standards.
Mr Michael Coupland , owner of the retail business trading as Oakdale Stores, Nottingham was fined a total of £3,520 at Nottingham Magistrates Court on 28 January 2016, following an eight month long investigation by the Rural Payments Agency’s (RPA) Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).
Mr Coupland who was present in court, pleaded guilty to five separate quality and labelling offences, although other additional offences also found on the day were taken into account by the court. He was fined a total of £1,000 with a further £2,500 prosecution and investigation costs and a £20 victim surcharge bringing the total penalty of £3520.00.
An HMI inspection conducted on 16 June 2015 found 10 regulated displays in breach of the EU marketing rules for fresh produce quality and labelling which included a display of loose mangoes and pre-packed nectarines found being displayed and on offer for sale in a rotten condition.
Paul Caldwell, RPA Operations Director said:
The ultimate objective of the RPA’s Horticultural Marketing Inspectors is to work closely with the fresh produce industry at all times. They use face-to-face inspection as a means of providing advice and guidance to help support retailers such as Mr Coupland understand the role that the marketing standards can play in adding real value to their business.
Unfortunately their advice is not always heeded by individuals and businesses and when all other options are exhausted, the RPA will resort to the use of criminal sanction to bring about a required change in behaviour.
The prosecution followed a series of risk-based enforcement visits and inspections, carried out by the HMI between October 2014 and June 2015.
Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with Mr Coupland and his staff with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the business.
Oakdale Stores is located at 7 Oakdale Road, Nottingham, NG3 7EF.
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.