Sainsbury packaging prosecution dropped at the last minute

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Retailing, Pleading

Sainsbury’s will no longer face legal action over allegations of excess packaging after the UK authority behind the prosecution said bringing the case was “no longer in the public interest”.

Lincolnshire County Council announced it had called off the action that had been due to be heard this week after the supermarket had demonstrated “evidence of a considerable reduction in packaging and the replacement of all previous stock”.

Sainsbury’s welcomed the decision but said the case had “never been in the public interest”. ​It added it was baffled over why the case went as far as it did. The supermarket said it had already informed Lincoln of its plans to lightweight its packaging by more than half back in the summer.

Public interest

The council’s trading standards department launched its investigation against Sainsbury’s in 2009 after receiving a customer complaint over the amount of packaging on the retailer’s Taste the Difference slow matured beef joint. The council said it had a duty to enforce regulations which require businesses to review and reduce their packaging so that items are packaged to ensure product protection and customer acceptance. Last month, Sainsbury’s said it had sent detailed proposals to the body demonstrating a significant reduction in the amount of packing on the meat.

“With the changes which have now been made and the intention of Sainsbury’s to make further reductions if possible this authority has decided that it is no longer in the public interest to prosecute,”​ said council trading standards head Peter Heafield.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told FoodProductionDaily.com: “We are pleased that the council has withdrawn this case, which we don’t believe was ever in the public interest. Our packaging is under constant review and the council was made aware of our plans for this product back in June, so we never understood why the prosecution was allowed to go as far as it did.”

Lightweighting

He said that packing of the product in question had been cut by 53 per cent since the council had raised its concerns, and was set to be reduced by at least another 10 per cent within the next few months.

“Our leadership in this area has led us to reduce our packaging by eight million kilos over the past year, putting us on track to hit our industry-leading target to reduce packaging by a third by 2015,”​ he added.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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