Woolworths fined $50,000 for selling expired formula

Supermarket giant Woolworths Group has been fined A$50,000 for selling expired baby formula at a supermarket in in Cairns. Woolies was ordered to pay $1,847.95 in court costs.

The Tropical Public Health Services Cairns inspected its store at Abbott Street in Cairns in July 2018 and found items for sale that breached the Food Act 2006. Six food items, including five infant formula products, were between one and 152 days past their expiration dates.

“At Woolworths, we take food safety and quality very seriously. We have introduced new processes and improvements in to our stores to ensure food safety and quality standards are met. These include increased team training and additional date checks. It’s vital that our customers trust the integrity of our quality standards, and we’re always striving to improve our processes to help us deliver on this,” said a Woolworths spokesperson to Inside FMCG.

Manager of Environmental Health, Brad Milligan, said in a statement that the investigation showed that Woolworths failed to implement the proper procedures of removing old items from supermarket shelves.

“The main concerns with regards to infant formula relates to the potential decrease in the nutritional value of the product. This is especially concerning where infant formula is the only source of nutrition for the child,” said Milligan.

Although he added that there wasn’t any evidence of any child who was “adversely affected by these products sold” after their use by date.

It is the second time Woolworths was convicted for offences at the same store. In June 2018 the grocery was fined A$45,000 and ordered to pay A$2,842 in court costs for selling products that were past their use by date including bread, pasta, small goods, cheese and dips and pre-cooked meals.

Queensland Health said in the statement that the supermarket was convicted of the same breaches seven times in the last 11 years. While in Far North Queensland this is the third time in the last two years.

“The magnitude of the fine demonstrates the seriousness of the breaches and should send a strong and clear message that selling out-of-date food presents a serious risk to public health. We also encourage consumers to check the use-by-dates of goods before buying them to avoid potential health risks,” said Milligan.

Last year, Woolworths applied a two tin limit on baby formula in stores after they were stripped of product in some stores due to high demand.

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