A PADDOCK shop owner has been fined more than £3000 for selling “rancid” goods.
Peter Hobson, the managing director of Premier Discounts, was handed the fine by magistrates yesterday.
It follows an investigation by Trading Standards in early 2007 after a complaint by a customer about a covered-up best before date.
Officers later found a tin of what was called “rancid” soup in the store.
Hobson is in charge of Hobson’s Choice Stores Ltd which magistrates’ heard had turned over in excess of £1million since it was formed.
The Paddock shop sells goods close to their sell by date at a cut down price.
The charges relate to incidents which occurred on April 2 and on May 2 2007.
He was further charged with failing to provide Trading Standards with information relating to his supplier.
He could have faced a fine of more than £20,000 for the three charges.
Carol Holbury, prosecuting, said: “There had been attempts made to scratch the original date off the marmalade.
“The company themselves may not have done this, but it seems to me that they should have looked at this and been aware of it.”
Mrs Holbury said the tin of soup was taken away for analysis.
“The sample did not meet the quality demanded by the Food Standards Act,” she added.
“It was said to be rancid.”
Trading Standards sent a letter to Hobson on June 8 2007 asking for the details of Premier Discounts’ suppliers.
Prosecution say it was mid-September before a response was received.
Hobson has around 30 years experience in the food industry. His started with a market stall and grew his company into a chain which turned over tens of thousands a year.
The court heard that the now defunct Denver Food Ltd supplied the goods to Hobson’s Premier Discounts.
In mitigation, Mr Evans said that his client had made attempts as early as May to supply the details to Trading Standards.
He added that a fire which tore through the company’s headquarters led to a slight delay in providing the information as invoices were destroyed.
“There is no question that anyone was harmed by the soup, there is no suggestion that there was any possibility someone could have been harmed,” Mr Evans said.
“There is no suggestion that my client tampered with the label on the marmalade.
“Denver had supplied the goods and it stops with them.
“Hobson Choice Stores is in itself past its sell by date. He can’t compete with Tesco or Asda. He is in the process of winding his business up.”
He added that the company had made a loss since 2005, despite records obtained by the prosecution showing that dividends of £52,000 were paid out and the business assets were in excess of £1million.
Magistrates’ fined Hobson £500 for selling the jar of marmalade with the covered up date, £1,000 for the rancid chicken soup and £500 for failing to supply details.
He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs and a victim surcharge, bringing the total to £3127.