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Farm shop owner fined

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Trading Standards has successfully prosecuted one local trader for making false and misleading claims.

Louise Bunford, trading as Farmersyard Pantry Farm Shop, of Tir Y Gelli Farm, Ynysybwl, was fined at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court for making false and misleading claims in relation to the origin of beef sold and membership of a farm standards scheme.

The prosecution followed a routine inspection made by the Council’s Trading Standards officers in July 2019 and a consumer complaint received concerning meat and egg origin claims being made by the business. 

The shop, which is on the site of a farm, was found to be claiming via advertisements in local newspaper, Clydach News Stream, that beef sold, was from their own farm. 

The advertisements were found to have appeared in two separate editions of the newspaper. Investigations carried out determined that regular deliveries of large quantities of beef were supplied to the shop from Castell Howell Foods Ltd and Welsh Bros Foods Ltd. 

It was also determined that no beef cattle were found to have been moved from the on-site farm to slaughter.

The business was also found to be claiming membership, via its business Facebook page, of the Farm Assured Welsh Livestock Beef and Lamb Scheme (FAWL). The scope of FAWL certification includes food safety, animal health and welfare, environmental protection and complaint handling procedures. 

Membership of the scheme involves initial assessments and ongoing re-assessments. Bunford had accepted that the business was not a member of the FAWL scheme but had failed to remove the logo from advertising, despite advice and a written warning from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Trading Standards. 
 
After pleading not guilty to the charges, magistrates found Bunford guilty of two offences in relation to the beef origin claims (General Food Regulations 2004) and one offence in relation to the FAWL claim (Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008).

She was ordered to pay £1,892, which included a fine of £180 for the beef origin claims and £180 for the FAWL claim. Also included was a contribution to cost of £1,500 and a victim surcharge of £32. 

Councillor Rhys Lewis, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, Well-being and Cultural Services, speaking after the successful court prosecution, said: “Before taking this enforcement action, compliance had been sought by our Trading Standards officers through offering business advice and then issuing a written warning.

“Unfortunately, in this case, it was not possible to secure compliance via these means and we had no alternative other than to bring about this prosecution.

“The claims made were not only detrimental to consumers, but also to honest traders and the Farm Assured Welsh Livestock Beef and Lamb Scheme itself.  Businesses spend time and resources on maintaining FAWL membership and our Trading Standards officers have a role in ensuring that a level playing field is maintained. 

“Consumers also have a right to know that items they are purchasing, fits the descriptions being offered.”