Tesco has been fined £7.56m by a judge for selling out of date food at three of its Birmingham stores.
The supermarket chain was handed the penalty by a judge at Birmingham magistrates court on Monday and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £95,500, Birmingham city council said. It was also ordered to pay a £170 victim surcharge.
The fine was handed down after Tesco admitted 22 breaches of the food safety and hygiene regulations between 2016 and 2017.
The prosecution by the city council’s environmental health department came about after complaints were received by the local authority about food being sold when past its use-by date, triggering an investigation.
Food inspectors visited three of the company’s premises.
Offending items were discovered at two Tesco Express stores, in the city centre and the Bournville area, and a Tesco Metro in Bristol Road South, which has since been rebranded under Tesco’s discount chain, Jack’s.
Tesco said it was “disappointed” that out of date products got on to the shelves, adding that it took “immediate action” to rectify the problems and had “robust procedures” in place to ensure there is no repeat.
Date-checking at the grocer’s stores is now externally approved by Hertfordshire county council because the company’s Welwyn Garden City head office is located in that local authority’s area.
A Tesco spokesperson said: “We’re disappointed that a small number of out of date products were found on sale in three stores in 2016/17.
“The safety of our customers is always our priority and these incidents are not representative of the high standards of safety and quality we expect in Tesco stores.
“We took immediate action to address this at the time and we want to reassure our customers that we have robust procedures in place to make sure that this doesn’t happen.”
All UK supermarket chains must put compulsory “use by” labels on foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products that carry a safety risk if eaten after that date.
The “best before” dates put on fruit and vegetables are largely a quality indication to show that although they may no longer be at their best, they are still safe to eat.