Pesto firm Stark Naked Foods fined over labels

A Suffolk food firm has been fined £23,500 for making false claims about the ingredients in its pesto.

Stark Naked Foods admitted 14 offences to magistrates in Ipswich, including claims its pesto contained Grana Padano even though other cheese had been used.

Claims were also made about the pesto only containing extra virgin olive oil when sunflower oil was an ingredient.

In a statement, the Eye-based firm blamed many of its "errors" on a previous technical manager.

The pesto was sold under the Stark Naked label and produced for a supermarket.

The case was brought under the Food Safety Act by Suffolk County Council's trading standards.

Magistrates heard that the company had also claimed the pesto was fresh when some ingredients had previously been frozen.

'Entirely unacceptable'

Officers said the decision to prosecute came after the company ignored advice about misleading consumers by using cheaper ingredients.

The company was also ordered to pay £5,000 costs.

After the case, Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection at the council, said: "It is entirely unacceptable for a local company to mislead the public with false labelling claims and substitute ingredients in order to cut costs.

"This is a classic case of our trading standards service taking action to maintain a 'level playing field' for business in the county."

In a statement, Stark Naked Foods said: "The court today expressly stated that what had happened was not done deliberately or for financial gain.

"Many errors were down to a previous technical manager who changed the recipes for longer shelf life without updating the packaging."

The firm described the case as "heavy-handed", saying it had sought compliance advice from Suffolk Trading Standards previously.

As a result of the court action, the company said it was now "in trouble" and both jobs and orders had been lost.

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