New Judgment: Torfaen County Borough Council v Douglas Willis Ltd  UKSC 59
31 Wednesday Jul 2013
On appeal from:  EWHC 296.
Inspectors for the appellants visited the premises of the respondent company and found packages of frozen meat labelled with “use by” dates that had passed. The respondents were charged with selling food after its use by date contrary to the Food Labelling Regulations 1996, reg 44(1)(d). The respondent submitted it had no case to answer as the food was not highly perishable and not likely to constitute an immediate danger to human health. There was no evidence as to when the meat had been labelled or frozen.
The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the Council’s appeal. The Divisional Court was right to reject the argument that the food had to be in a highly perishable state at the time of the alleged offences. On the wording of reg 44(1)(d) all the prosecution had to prove was that the food was in the defendant’s possession for sale at the date of the alleged offence; that the food had a use by mark or label “relating” to it; and that the date shown had passed. To read into that an additional requirement that the food was in a highly perishable state would seriously weaken the regulatory scheme and the protection provided to consumers.