Anger grows as The Real Junk Food Project may face prosecution

6 June 2017

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Anger is growing after West Yorkshire Trading Standards said it was investigating a West Leeds-based project which offers ‘pay as you feel’ meals with food that would otherwise be wasted.

The Real Junk Food Project (RJFP) started at the Armley Junktion café in Chapel Lane, Armley, four years ago and uses surplus produce which would go to waste to provide meals for people who can pay as much as they like or nothing.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTSS) said it found more than 400 items past their use-by date at the RJFP warehouse on the Grangefield Estate in Pudsey.

A letter sent to RJFP states 444 items, which were a cumulative total of 6,345 days past the use-by dates, were discovered.

RJFP founder Adam Smith will be interviewed ‘under caution’ tomorrow morning – and could face charges for serving out of date food. He said:

“We’ve fed over one million people worldwide with food that’s expired and still to this day no-one has ever been sick. So we can prove that we can make this food safe for human consumption.
“I’m quite positive about it. Just because it’s the law doesn’t make it right. We can prove that the food is safe for human consumption.”

But the decision to interview Mr Smith has sparked outcry on social media today.

Mick Arnall said on Facebook:

“They claim he is knowingly selling food past it’s sell by date. Some food hygiene law from the 70s. The fact is he is collecting perfectly edible food and asking that people pay what they feel. If they feel like paying nothing then fine. If they want to put £10 in fine. It’s a joke!
“Adam is helping people in need due to the fact that for the past seven years, the government has done nothing to help struggling families and they have had to resort to food banks and pay as you feel supermarkets. Keep up the good work Adam!”

Rachel Margaret added:

“Let’s hope common sense is the winner here – a ridiculous situation – I sincerely hope you win the day.”

Sara Headley added:

“The law needs to change, good luck with this! I’m just going to the police station to confess I ate a yoghurt dated 31/5!”

Environmental organisation Feedback also condemned the move. In a statement, it said:

“The real crime here is the waste that is caused when people throw perfectly edible food away, because they are confused about which labels are important to follow and which are just guidelines. For example, ‘best before’ labels, which have nothing to do with food safety, often cause confusion. Supermarkets can and must find other ways to ensure effective stock rotation than misleading labels that help no one and cause vast amounts of waste.

“The Real Junk Food Project has been rightly feted for saving thousands of tonnes of food from an early grave and feeding thousands of people a good, healthy and delicious meal at their cafes. It’s time we all learned to trust our senses on when food is good to eat – and it’s time we found a better way to label our food to ensure nothing needlessly goes to waste.”

A peaceful pavement picnic is being organised for outside the West Yorkshire Trading Standards building in Morley tomorrow (Wednesday), from 10am, to coincide with Mr Smith’s interview. More details here.

And a petition to change the Food Safety & Hygiene regulations 2013 and amend the regulations on best before and use by dates has been launched.

Trading Standards are not commenting on the issue.

   

   
   
   
   

   

   


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Dan says:

I cannot see what law it is that he is supposed to have broken.
Which is quite shocking really because I am looking at the letter…
It is a fairly basic principle when accusing someone, that you tell them what it is that they are accused of in terms that they can understand.

If the accusation is simply that he was trading in unsafe food, then that is fine, because he wasn’t, but there is no mention of “unsafe food” in Regulation 19(1) of The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
A trawl of the Act should take you to EC 178/2002, which tells us a bit more about “unsafe food”, but there is still no mention of “use by” dates.
Those are mentioned in EC1169/2011, but those are regulations about how food should be labelled: it was not the Junk Food Project that put the labels on.

In short, even if they are doing something wrong, there is no excuse for such a half arsed incompetent effort from Trading Standards.