Booths fined £27,500 for food safety charges

Supermarket chain Booths has pleaded guilty to food safety charges, which resulted in a £27,500 fine.

On Monday (5 August) Booths pleaded guilty to 10 charges relating to selling an ox tongue containing listeria bacteria and products that had passed their expiration date in its Lytham store.

Fylde Council cabinet member for environment and partnerships and councillor Tommy Threlfall said: “The council’s investigation of Booths revealed some quite shocking examples of ignorance of food safety. The ox tongue turned out to be tip of the iceberg as we discovered that fresh mussels and oysters were being managed beyond the shelf-life policy.

“Disturbingly, we visited the store on 28 October 2011 and inspected Polish sopocka which was labelled as having been opened on 29 October – an impossibility and one that could have led to its sale beyond its safe date.”

Threlfall continued to explain that it found daily deli tickets being changed with no indication of original opening date.

Source of listeria

The investigation of the supermarket started after a customer was infected with listeria in September 2011. However, the actual source of the listeria was Wirral Foods, which the judge raised concerns about in his summing up, as it was never prosecuted.

Booths confirmed that it was open about “shouldering the blame”, but claimed it was important to raise concerns over Wirral Foods as it was continuing to trade.

In a press statement Booths said: “Booths and our customers have been very badly let down by Wirral Foods. Booths immediately ceased trading with Wirral Foods when we learnt of the problem.”

The supermarket added that it has taken significant steps to address the issues and the authorities have been satisfied with its response to the incident.

Threlfall added: “Booths is a highly regarded family firm. It makes a great contribution to the economic life of Fylde. It is very sad that they have been in court. They have already assured us, however, that they have learned from this episode, and Fylde Council will help if we can.

“They have already introduced a new ticketing system that will help staff with stock control. Staff have been trained in that system and it will reduce the possibility of human error and selling food past its use-by date.”

Twelve additional food charges against the supermarket were dropped, and Booths was ordered to pay the council’s costs of £46,755.76 and a £15 victim surcharge.