The owners of a West Yorkshire shop have been fined for selling rotten, damaged and incorrectly labelled fruit and vegetables following an investigation by the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI).
Abdullah Dadipatel, aged 36, and Hawa Dadipatel, aged 35, of A and Z Dadipatel, based in Banks Street, Batley, admitted eight charges when they appeared at Wakefield and Pontefract Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 2 December.
The charges related to offences found on 12 May and 5 June this year during an investigation carried out by HMI, part of the Rural Payments Agency.
In May, inspectors found rotting cauliflowers, severely bruised strawberries and labelling defect on courgettes, turnips, spring onions, spinach, Galia melons, oranges, Royal Gala apples and Packham’s Triumph pears.
The following month inspectors found spinach, spring onions, saragwo, guava, Fuji apples, peaches, Conference pears and lettuce which were all affected by rot. They also found bruised loquats and labelling defects on apples and nectarines.
Abdullah and Hawa Dadipatel were each ordered to pay a £1,000 fine, £500 costs and a £100 victims’ surcharge.
Operations Director Paul Caldwell said:
This is another example of the work we carry out to protect consumers. They should be able to buy good quality fresh produce which is labelled correctly.
We see prosecution as a last resort and always try to gain compliance with quality and labelling regulations through advice guidance and instruction.
This particular store received four visits from inspectors between April 2013 and March 2014 where advice and guidance on compliance was offered. Poor quality produce was found on two of these occasions and inadequate labelling on every visit.
A and Z Dadipatel is based at 24/26 Banks Street, Batley
The HMI is part of the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The Inspectorate 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.
The HMI operates a transparent risk-based approach to enforcement and has the principle aim of gaining cooperation and compliance from the trade it regulates at all stages of the distribution chain. Prosecutions are only taken as a last resort when all other options of education and advice have been exhausted.
The Inspectorate follows the Hampton procedures of identifying and isolating any persistent and blatant offenders. The ultimate sanction of prosecution is then used as a clear deterrent to others who may look to break the EU marketing rules in order to obtain an advantage over other commercial competitors. Further information about the work of HMI can be found on GOV.UK.
RPA is an Executive Agency of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), providing a range of key services in support of the department’s objectives, including making rural payments, carrying out rural inspections, and livestock tracing.