Meat supplier Douglas Willis Ltd fined for label breach

The meat supplier admitted 12 offences of mislabelling

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A meat wholesaler has been fined £15,000 for having meat in its freezers which had passed its "use by" date, in some cases by several years.

Cwmbran-based Douglas Willis Ltd could not prove when the meat was frozen and admitted 12 offences of mislabelling.

Caerphilly Magistrates' Court heard the firm broke labelling laws by creating a risk that "hazardous" food could enter the food chain.

The case went ahead following a ruling from the Supreme Court.

The company, which supplies meat products to catering outlets, was told it had no case to answer in 2011 because it was judged that frozen meat did not pose a risk to public health.

But a clarification from the Supreme Court last summer ordered Thursday's retrial, ruling the prosecution did not have to prove the meat was a hazard - only that it was not labelled correctly.

'Not intentional'

Douglas Willis Ltd failed to record when meat was first frozen, and some was found to be several years past the "use by" date given to it when fresh, the court heard.

District Judge Richard Williams said the company was "not alleged to have acted intentionally, but it did".

The firm was fined a total of £15,000 for 12 offences and must pay £12,000 in costs.

The company, which has been in the Willis family for three generations, employs 41 people in Cwmbran, and had a £7.1m turnover last year.

In any similar cases in future where frozen meat has a use by date, trading standards officers will be able to prosecute regardless of whether the meat poses a safety risk.

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