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Borough Market trader fined for mislabelling fruit & veg

A Borough Market trader has been fined for selling fruit and vegetables that failed to meet the statutory labelling requirements.

Borough Market trader fined for mislabelling fruit & veg

Paul Wheeler, director of Paul Wheeler (Fresh Supplies) Ltd, was fined 2,100 at Camberwell Green Magistrates' Court on 17 February after a 15-month investigation by the Rural Payments Agency's Horticultural Marketing Inspectors (HMI).

An HMI inspection on 14 July last year found 18 displays in breach of the EU marketing rules for fresh produce labelling which included products found on display and on offer for sale to the public without the required country of origin and where required, a variety and quality class.

In court Mr Wheeler pleaded guilty to 18 separate labelling offences and was ordered to pay a further 1,770 prosecution and investigation costs bringing the total penalty (including 40 victim surcharge) to 3,910.

In sentencing, the chair of the bench pointed out that these were serious offences and Mr Wheeler could not ignore such legislation.

"Concerted efforts were made by HMI to work closely with Mr Wheeler and his staff with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the business," said Paul Caldwell, operations director of the Rural Payments Agency.

"HMI relies on face-to-face inspections to provide advice and guidance to retailers such as Mr Wheeler, to help them fully appreciate the value of adopting clear and transparent labelling to help reassure customers of the quality and origin of the fresh produce they are buying.

"Unfortunately such advice is not always heeded and when all other options have been exhausted we will resort to the use of criminal sanction to bring about a required change in behaviour."

HMI inspectors are responsible for enforcing EU marketing standards for fresh fruit, vegetables, salad crops, nuts and cultivated mushrooms, throughout England and Wales, wherever fresh produce is grown, imported, exported, bought or sold.

Keith Davis, managing director of Borough Market, said: "All Borough Market traders are obliged to adhere to statutory guidelines, legislation and EU directives as outlined in our trader regulations and all lease agreements.

"Whilst we make every effort to support traders with the understanding of these rules and issue regular reminders of their obligations, as independent businesses they are responsible for ensuring their own compliance.

"We take any breach very seriously and are working with the trader in question to ensure it does not happen again."

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