Birmingham City Council v Tesco Stores Limited – prosecution for selling food after expiry of “use by” date”

March 19, 2020

The full Divisional Court sitting in Birmingham has reserved judgment in the case of Birmingham City Council v Tesco Stores Limited concerning “use by” dates and the relationship of European Regulation 1169/2011 Article 24 and Article 14 of Regulation 178/2002. Article 14 provides that food shall not be placed on the market if it is unsafe. Food is deemed to be unsafe if it is considered to be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption. Article 24 provides that “In the case of foods which, from a microbiological point of view, are highly perishable and are therefore likely after a short period to constitute an immediate danger to human health…After the ‘use by’ date a food shall be deemed to be unsafe in accordance with…” Article 14. The issue is whether the deeming provision creates a rebuttable presumption or whether it is conclusive as to the issue of safety.

Richard Barraclough QC appeared for the prosecuting food authority.

Richard Barraclough QC has just completed the prosecution at the Central Criminal Court of a food supplement case concerning Dinitrophenol (DNP) which caused the death of a young anorexic. The defendant was convicted of gross negligence manslaughter and sentenced to 7 years imprisonment.