Woolworths fined for selling expired baby formula in Cairns
Updated September 04, 2019 16:33:13
Woolworths has been fined $50,000 for selling expired baby formula at a Cairns supermarket in far north Queensland, the second time the store has been caught out.
- Queensland Health officers discovered several expired tins across several different brands
- The company was also ordered to pay $1,800 in costs and a conviction was recorded
- The company was fined $45,000 in court over a similar incident in 2016
The company sold five tins that had been expired for five months at its Abbott Street shop in the CBD, the Cairns Magistrate Court has heard.
Woolworths’ legal representatives pleaded guilty on behalf of the company, but downplayed the severity of the incident.
The company was also ordered to pay $1,800 in costs and a conviction was recorded.
The maximum fine for the offence is more than $1.3 million.
An off-duty Queensland Health officer discovered the out-of-date tin in July last year while shopping at the supermarket.
Queensland Health officers returned the next day in an official capacity and discovered several more expired tins across several different brands.
Barrister Stephanie Williams, acting on behalf of Queensland Health, told the court the offence was of a serious nature, given the nutrients in infant formula degraded over time.
She also told the court it was not the first time that particular store had sold expired tins of baby formula.
The company was fined $45,000 in court over a similar incident in 2016.
“There is a lack of action by the defendant,” Ms William said.
“A lack of motivation to implement training for staff.
“They [Woolworths] have a recalcitrant attitude.
“It’s too little, too late.”
‘Babies put at risk of inadequate nutrition’
Barrister Barry Dean, acting for Woolworths, said they “objected to the seriousness of the offence” outlined in the prosecution’s case.
“These were dried items inside sealed containers with limited exposure to oxygen or sunlight,” Mr Dean said.
He also said that “ultimately there was always going to be human error” but that “Woolworths wants to do better”.
Furthermore, the court heard extra staff training had been rolled out since the incident.
In sentencing, Magistrate Janelle Brassington told the court the expired formula was “significantly passed its used-by date”.
“It is a serious breach of the legislation,” she said.
“Formula provides a sole source of nutrition for some infants.
“They [infants] are extremely vulnerable.
“When you are dealing with infants aged 0-6 months the existence of any risk is of great concern.”
She also noted that while no-one became ill due to the expired products, it could have led “to the potential risk of inadequate nutrition” for babies.
She also noted Woolworths had shown “significant remorse” and rolled out better education and training for staff around long-life products.
A Woolworths spokesperson said the company had introduced new processes and improvements in the wake of the court ruling to ensure food safety and quality standards were being met.
“These include increased team training and additional date checks,” the spokesperson said.
“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.”
First posted September 04, 2019 11:06:46