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Stark Naked Foods claimed its pesto products contained extra virgin olive oil and Grana Padano, and were fresh on the shelf.
But trading standards officers found that they were made with sunflower oil, other cheeses from Latvia, and that the ‘locally-grown’ basil came from Israel. The pesto was also frozen in large batches.
The decision to prosecute came after the company didn’t react to advice about misleading consumers. The firm was fined £23,500 and ordered to pay £5,000 in court costs.
Colin Spence, cabinet member for public protection at Suffolk County 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.”
The company denied any deliberate wrongdoing and said the mistake was down to a member of staff.
In a statement, a spokesperson for 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.”