Budgens fined £12,000

A MIDHURST supermarket has been hit with a hefty £12,000 fine for failing to label its food products properly.

Budgens in Bepton Road fell foul of the strict guidelines from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs about how products should be labelled.

The store failed a number of inspections and was sent warning letters ahead of a final inspection in May last year.

Kavanagh Retailing UK Ltd, which runs the store, was taken to court by DEFRA as a last resort for eight counts of selling food which was not labelled with the correct country of origin or variety of food.

The company pleaded guilty to all the offences at Chichester Magistrates’ Court.

Prosecuting, Alex White said: “DEFRA has taken this as a last resort as Budgens has consistently failed to comply with its objections in this particular case despite a problem being known at the store for quite a while, and the store was unable to satisfactorily show improvement.”

Between November 2008 and May 2010, the store was the subject of 15 inspections which rate stores on a traffic-light system. It was given a clean bill of health four times.

They went into the red inspection phase following an inspection in January last year (2010). A letter was sent on January 28, and the site demonstrated a good compliance at an inspection following that in March.

But an inspection on May 12 was the final straw.

The court was told an employee, who had been trained to label the food correctly, had chosen not to take their Attention Deficit Disorder medication during that week and so their lack of attention to detail meant the errors were made.

Defending, Judith Kelly said: “The company is extremely regretful of this issue. It never intended there should be any breach of the regulations.

“It has endeavoured throughout to put in place the appropriate processes.

“We are not looking here at offences of poor quality or defective quality or financial gain in putting the wrong labelling – the issue in store was repeatedly failing to get the country of original and variety labels in place.”

She said they were crimes of error rather than intention.

She added: “It should have remained a high priority as a result of the outcome of the visit on May 12.”