Barnsley Magistrates Court heard how Nathan Bennett of Leeds Road, Huddersfield had been selling the fake products from his shop Kandy Fix in the Alhambra Shopping Centre, Barnsley.
In August 2021, a Trading Standards Officer visited the premises following a complaint from a member of the public and got a sample of what appeared to be a counterfeit Wonka Bar.
It was discovered that the confection was actually cheap supermarket chocolate that Bennett had rewrapped at his home using labels that had been printed for him prior to their sale at his shop.
The information on these labels related to a product that had not been sold for at least five years and did not highlight some allergens as regulations require.
It also completely omitted the inclusion of hazelnut as an ingredient – analysis showed that one or two squares of the chocolate bar contained enough hazelnut to trigger a serious allergic reaction such as swelling of the airway.
Bennett claimed to have only sold the Wonka Bars for two weeks and that he did not know that what he was doing was an offence. However, the evidence presented by Barnsley Council demonstrated that he had been selling Wonka Bars since at least 2019 at another kiosk in Huddersfield.
He had also been given advice on food allergen labelling on at least six occasions by North East Lincolnshire and Doncaster councils. Bennett had also been prosecuted previously for selling Wonka Bars in similar circumstances in North East Lincolnshire in 2016.
Nathan Bennett, 33, of Leeds Road, Huddersfield, was sentenced to 16 weeks of imprisonment (suspended for 12 months), 10 days of rehabilitation activity, 100 hours of unpaid community work and to cover total costs of £3,723.01 and £128 of victim surcharge.
Commenting on the case, director of public health Julia Burrows said: “Inaccurate food labelling is dangerous and poses a serious risk if a consumer has an allergy to one of the ingredients not listed on the label.
Customers safety at risk
“Mr Bennett has been selling counterfeit products with incorrect labelling and allergy advice, and by doing so, putting his customers’ safety at risk. This sentence sends a strong and clear message of the consequences for disregarding public safety.”
Last month, UK and Ireland food safety authorities warned members of the public to be on the lookout for counterfeit Wonka chocolate bars being sold in shops and online across the country. It is not known at this time if Bennett’s case was linked to this warning.
Tina Potter, Food Standards Agency Head of Incidents, added: “Bennett’s offences could have had very serious consequences for anyone with a nut allergy, so we are grateful to Barnsley MBC for their work in securing this conviction.”