Woodbridge: Jam company fined for falsely claiming it used Suffolk-grown fruits

A FOOD company and its director must pay out �15,000 after claiming its jams contained Suffolk fruits when the produce was from Yorkshire, Poland and China.

Katherine Neuteboom, of Shop Road, Clopton, near Woodbridge, and Stonham Hedgerow Ltd, of Main Road, Hemingstone, each admitted 13 charges relating to false food labelling when their cases came before South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

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

The officers bought them from farm shops in Tattingstone, Farnham near Saxmundham, Earl Soham, and Bradwell.

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.

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

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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. Magistrates were told Neuteboom had run Stonham Hedgerow, which employs three part-time workers, for 19 years.

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 the 48-year-old had failed to change the labelling on the jams as her health deteriorated and she had succumbed to mental illness which led her to be sectioned in October 2010.

At the time Neuteboom believed many people were involved in a vendetta against her business.

Magistrates heard she had been diagnosed with Persistent Delusional Paranoid Disorder.

Stonham Hedgerow Ltd made a loss of �22,000 last year as a result of the problems which beset the company and Neuteboom.

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

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