A Bradford fresh produce retailer has been fined £4,500 for offering rotten fruit and veg for sale.

Darbar Foods, based at Newport Place, Manningham, was also ordered to pay £4,494 prosecution costs after admitting displaying and offering for sale fruit and vegetables that did not comply with European Community standards for quality and labelling.

Proprietor Sarfraz Ahmed pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates’ Court to five breaches of EC marketing standards for fresh horticultural produce, involving 18 separate fruit and vegetables, including pomegranates, cucumbers, apples and oranges.

Paul Caldwell, operations director of the Rural Payments Agency, which brought the prosecution, said: “We are committed to protecting the public and food producers.”

He said court action followed a series of enforcement visits and inspections, carried out by the Horticultural Marketing Inspectorate (HMI) over an eight-month period from June 2010.

During this time, HMI inspectors provided advice and guidance which was designed to support and inform the firm in an effort to gain compliance. This then led to more targeted enforcement visits involving the issue of increased instruction and direction.

Concerted efforts were made by the HMI to work closely with the firm’s proprietor and staff with meetings, verbal warnings and formal written notices, all aimed at achieving improved compliance from the company.

The magistrates said some of the product labelling was clearly not correct and not of merchantable quality, and between ten and 100 per cent levels of rot within fresh produce was unacceptable. It was not acceptable to present rotten produce to the “good people of Bradford”.