Morrisons fined £18,000 for meat found in vegetarian product

A supermarket has been fined £18,000 for selling a meat ravioli product that had been wrongly labelled as suitable for vegetarians.

Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc based in Gain Lane, Bradford, received fines totalling £18,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,981.41 at Northampton magistrates court after pleading guilty to two charges of contravening the Food Safety Act 1990.

The major multiple was prosecuted following an investigation led by Northamptonshire County Council's trading standards team after a complaint was made by a man who bought two tins of Morrisons own brand 'Meat free Ravioli in Tomato Sauce - suitable for vegetarians' from a store in Northampton.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said the complainant had been a vegetarian for 23 years and was 'unimpressed, disgusted and disappointed' to find meat in the product.

The ravioli product had been manufactured and packed in Italy and during the investigation it became clear that Morrisons had received several other consumer complaints of the same nature in the previous two months and had failed to investigate them properly, the county council spokesman said.

Cabinet member for community safety, councillor Liz Tavener, said: "Food labels are there so that consumers can get the information they need to know before they buy.

"This is important not just for health reasons, but also for people who follow specific diets or have food allergies.

"In this case, someone who was vegetarian unwittingly purchased a product containing meat; this falls well below the standards that consumers can expect and would not have happened if appropriate action had been taken by the supermarket following earlier complaints from other customers.

"Thanks to trading standards, the product has now been withdrawn from Morrisons supermarkets."

A spokesman for Wm Morrison said: "We take our responsibilities as retailers very seriously and the integrity of all the products that we sell is of paramount importance to us.

"This is an unfortunate incident where small amounts of meat found their way into a small quantity of tins of our meat free ravioli.

"We now have revised procedures in place. On this occasion we were let down by our supplier and would like to apologise to all customers who purchased the product."