UK – ASDA Stores Ltd., a British supermarket chain, has been slapped with a one star rating out of a maximum of five after food hygiene inspectors discovered pizza toppings past their use-by date.

The supermarket in east London was keeping the packs, including chicken, meatball and steak varieties, in a fridge when the officials visited. It was told ‘it is an offence to sell food past its use by date’ after the inspectors examined the items in a pizza-making area.

The report shows that eleven packs of 500g steak pizza toppings, five of 400g plain chicken and six 750g of meatballs were out of date.

The inspectors also told the store, in Leyton, to provide soap for a handwash basin in the pizza and rotisserie areas and to clear debris in a bakery and fresh food cold room.

Waltham Forest council gave the store a one-star rating out of a maximum of five following the inspection on November 15 last year.

“As was highlighted in the case against three Tesco stores in Birmingham last year, the law is crystal clear on the matter of use-by dates. Anything that is past its use-by date should not be sold. Supermarkets have a duty of care to ensure the food and drink they display for sale are in date and so are safe to consume – out of date food runs a risk to health, especially for children,” said Cllr Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader of Waltham Forest Council.

The report also urged the management to ensure food handlers are adequately supervised to implement effective stock rotation in the premises. This is to ensure that out of date (use by date) food is not sold onsite.’

The Tesco case involved the chain being fined £7.56 million (USD 8,460,698.40) for selling out of date food at three Birmingham stores.

The grocery giant responded by saying it took ‘immediate action’ to rectify the problems and had ‘robust procedures’ to prevent a repeat.

Expired product not for sale

A spokesperson for ASDA stressed that the food at its London store had not been on display to be bought by customers, as it was being kept in storage in the pizza-making area.

The report for the store at 1 Leyton Mills was released by the council under the Freedom of Information Act after a request by Metro.

The rating was the most recent for the branch on the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) website as of January 28.

According to the health watchdog, use-by dates relate to food safety while best before dates relate to quality.

“A use-by date on food is about safety. This is the most important date to remember. You can eat food until and, on the use-by date but not after. You will see use-by dates on food that goes off quickly, such as meat products or ready-to-eat salads,” states FSA.

The ASDA store was found wanting in the ‘management of food safety’, where the summary was ‘major improvement necessary’.

Improvements were also deemed necessary in ‘hygienic food handling’ while the cleanliness and condition of the facilities and building was found to be ‘generally satisfactory’.

“We take the hygiene of all of our stores extremely seriously and as soon as we were made aware of the findings all of the recommended actions were implemented immediately. We are satisfied that there was no evidence of out of date food being sold to customers and we are seeking a revaluation at our Leyton Mills store as soon as possible,” said the ASDA spokesperson.

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