Woodbridge: Company that falsely labelled jam has fines reduced

A FOOD company which was fined more than �8,000 after claiming it jams contained Suffolk fruits when the produce was from Yorkshire, Poland and China has had the fines reduced on appeal.

Stonham Hedgerow Ltd of Main Road, Hemingstone and its director Katherine Neuteboom, 49, of Shop Road, Clopton had each admitted 13 charges relating to false food labelling when their cases came before South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court earlier this year.

The business and Neuteboom were each fined a total of �4,250 and ordered to pay �6,500 costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

Yesterday(fri) at an appeal hearing against the sentence at Ipswich Crown Court, Judge John Devaux sitting with two magistrates, agreed to reduce the fines for the business and Neuteboom to �3,200 each. No change was made to the order for costs or the victim surcharge.

Prosecutor Alison Lambert said various flavours of jam were purchased from local far shops by trading standards officers during an investigation. Some of the jars cost between �3.45 and �3.85.

The labels claimed they contained strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, and rhubarb, grown by Suffolk suppliers.

Some of the content labels also stated the jams were made with whole fruits.

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However, Mrs Lambert told the court that it was discovered fruits from Poland and China had been used. On other occasions rhubarb and blackberries from Yorkshire were found in jams.

The court heard the claims of the fruits in some jams being whole were untrue. In addition, Mrs Lambert said some of the produce used in the jam-making was frozen and not fresh as was stated by Stonham Hedgerow Ltd.

The business had been under financial pressure so Neuteboom looked to buy in cheaper produce from elsewhere to cut costs.

However, the court was told she had failed to change the labelling on the jams.

David Howell for the business and Neuteboom said she had been unwell and received hospital treatment and hadn’t been as careful as she should have been with checking labelling.

He said Neuteboom had no previous convictions and the offences were out of character.

Mr Howell said the period of offending was very limited and his client had co-operated fully with trading standards.

He said the good name of the business had suffered as a result of the publicity surrounding the offences.