Gallows Corner Tesco in Harold Wood fined over rotten fruit

�One of the UK’s largest supermarket chains has had to pay more than �16,000 in fines and costs after being taken to court over displaying and offering for sale rotten and incorrectly-labelled fruit and vegetables at its store in Harold Wood.

Tesco Stores Limited was fined �7,901 for marketing groceries which did not comply with the European Community (|EC) standards for quality and labelling at its Tesco Extra store, at Gallows Corner, in Bryant Avenue.

The fines related to fruit and vegetables which were rotten and bruised, or did not have the correct class or country of origin displayed.

Tesco was hauled before Havering Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to four separate breaches of EC marketing standards for fresh horticultural produce on June 23.

Broken down Tesco was fined �2,350 for peaches found on display which were rotten or heavily bruised, and were labelled with the incorrect country of origin and fines of �1876, �2000 and �1675 for incorrect labelling of variety or country of origin for grapes, baby plum tomatoes and oranges respectively.

The bill was more than doubled to �16,401 when the court ordered to Tesco to stump up the �8,500 to cover the cost of taking the case to court along with a �15 victim surcharge.

The major supermarket chain was prosecuted after the Rural Payment Agency’s Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) conducted 17 risk-based enforcement visits and inspections at the Harold Wood store between May 2007 and June 2010, of which 12 were unsatisfactory.

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An RRP spokesman said: “Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with Tesco’s sales staff and management with face-to-face meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices provided, all aimed at achieving improved compliance.”

But the store’s failure to “produce a sustained change in behaviour” led to prosecution.

The court took into account a one-third reduction on the level of fines as a result of Tesco’s early guilty pleas.

A further five alleged breaches relating to labelling of red peppers, green peppers, orange peppers, grapefruit and turnips were withdrawn.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We would like to reassure customers that this was an isolated case. Stores have strict procedures in place to ensure fresh produce quality and correct labelling. Appropriate staff retraining has taken place at the store to avoid any repeat.”