The retailer was convicted at the Reading Magistrates Court on September 25 following a routine inspection by Trading Standards on 25 October 2017.
Items included garlic baguettes, which were three days out-of-date and yoghurts that were 15 days out-of-date. Further investigation by Trading Standards found that many of the checks to ensure food past its use-by date was removed from shelves had been carried out incorrectly.
At the hearing, Tesco claimed it had good procedures in place and these offences were from local failures in compliance with those procedures, which had since been investigated and rectified.
The retailer reassured the court that its long-life fresh food products – such as yoghurts – were checked every seven days. Therefore, the most out-of-date products referenced in the case had been, in theory, only missed on two or three occasions rather than up to 15 times.
Tesco pleaded guilty to selling food past its use-by date and was ordered to pay a fine of £160,000, a victim’s surcharge of £170 and cost of £7,756.50.
Commenting on the case, councillor John Harrison, executive member for culture, delivery and public protection at Bracknell Forest Council, said the level of penalty reflected the seriousness of the case.
“It is imperative that food business operators have in place good systems and that they are robustly implemented to prevent these things happening,” said Harrison. “Having food on your shelves up to 15 days past its use–by date is completely unacceptable.”
Meanwhile, risk management in an age of disruption will be the topic of Food Manufacture's annual Food Safety Briefing webinar, which will air on the 7 October, tackling topics such as food fraud.