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£30,000 court bill for Lye store found selling out of date food

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Bosses of a mini market in Lye have been ordered to pay more than £30,000 by a court after a Dudley Council environmental health inspection discovered they were selling food past its use by date.

Environmental health officers first visited Singh News Market in High Street at the end of August 2020.

They had received reports the business, operated by Kidderminster-based Newsmarket (Midlands) Ltd, was selling food past its use-by date at a reduced rate to the Romanian community in the town.

No evidence was found to substantiate the claims on the first visit, but warning letters were issued and environmental officers visited the shop several times over a six-month period as complaints continued to come in.

On a visit in March last year, officers discovered a basket near to the counter in the shop which was filled with food including ham, cheese, chicken, and yogurt. Twenty-five items in the basket were past their use by date.

The earliest use by date in the basket was February 8 – on display 28 days after the date had expired, the court was told.

Officers were satisfied the food items were within reach of customers and were not marked to indicate they were not for sale, and charges were brought against the company.

Naginder Singh, director and company secretary, attended Dudley Magistrates Court yesterday (Apr 6) and entered guilty pleas to 10 offences of selling unsafe food.

The company was fined a total of £27,000, as well as being ordered to pay court costs of £1,982.70 and a victim surcharge of £1,800. Bosses have been given 28 days to pay or face possible further punishment.

Kevin O’Keefe, chief executive, said:

I welcome the verdict of the magistrates in this case and the hefty financial penalty handed out for these offences.
It is important that we take action to help keep our residents safe, and it will also act hopefully as a deterrent to other businesses in the borough thinking of doing the same.
Food past its use by date is unsafe. Other factors may render food unsafe, such as if the food is not fully labelled in English. Businesses must satisfy themselves that the food they sell is safe or face the consequences.
Our environmental health and trading standards team will continue to educate, investigate and take action against any business which is not up to standard.
Our officers are always available to offer advice and information to any business who wants to make sure that they are following all the essential guidelines and legislation, but we will not hesitate to take action if this is not the case.

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