It follows the case of a restaurant in Wales that was prosecuted by Powys County Council and ordered to pay costs and fines in excess of £7,000.
Linda Dewan, a partner in Glasbury-on-Wye’s Foyles, was convicted at Llandrindod Wells Magistrates' Court on Wednesday, 9 November, for falsely describing the food it offered on its menus, its website and on social media.
The council’s trading standards service spearheaded the prosecution after receiving a complaint from Natural Resources Wales (NRW), after it raised concern that the restaurant had the descriptions ‘Wye Salmon’ and ‘Wye Trout’ on the menu.
The court was told that salmon from the River Wye could not even be sold legally and that when trading standards officers visited Foyles they found the salmon and trout products were from other sources, namely farm outlets.
After an 18-month investigation, other false descriptions were found to be used on the venue's menus, websites and social media.
Dewan pleaded guilty to four charges under the Food Safety Act and one charge under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for falsely describing food at the restaurant.
The court sentenced Dewan, fining her £500 for each of the Food Safety Act charges and no separate penalty for the Consumer Protection charge. The court stated that they had given credit to the early plea entered by Dewan and reduced the fine from £750 to £500 for the Food Safety Act charges.
The court also imposed a £50 victim surcharge and ordered her to pay full prosecution costs of £5,380, bringing the fine and total costs to £7,430.
Councillor Jonathan Wilkinson, cabinet member for trading standards, said: “The provenance of the food we eat is increasingly important to consumers; it's vital that if food is described as being locally sourced, consumers can purchase this with complete confidence.”
Clive Jones, the council’s professional lead for trading standards, community safety and emergency planning, said: “Businesses have to get their descriptions correct and must not mislead consumers by false descriptions, otherwise they could end up being in breach of important fair trading and food safety regulations.”