Woolies cops big fine over expired baby formula
A WOOLWORTHS store in Cairns has been fined $50,000 for multiple breaches of the Food Act after tins of baby formula out of date for up to five months were found on the shelves.
An off-duty environmental health officer spotted an expired tin of formula in the Abbott St store on July 11 last year and reported it before Queensland Health raided the store the following day and found four offending tins of S26 Gold in the clearance section.
Three of these were 119 days past their use-by date.
The Cairns Magistrates Court heard this morning a fifth tin of Blackmores Newborn formula was identified a day later which was 152 days out of date, before they also located a container of minestrone soup two days overdue on July 16.
The court was told the incidents occurred only about a month after the same store was handed a $45,000 fine for similar offending.
Barrister Stephanie Williams, representing Queensland Health, said the store had a "recalcitrant attitude" to this type of offending given how recently it occurred after the prior court appearance.
"Clearly ... the defendant did not, until the audit, glean that staff at this particular store were not trained in, or following, correct procedures," she said.
"(There was) a lack of action by the defendant in addressing its systems and procedures.
"(There was) a lack of motivation to implement training and education ... particularly when looked at through the lens of this defendant's previous history."
She said the audit that occurred afterwards was "too little, too late".
Woolworths' defence barrister Barry Dean said staff had subsequently been better trained but acknowledged there had been a "complete failure" to follow the procedures in place at the time.
The company had entered guilty pleas to four breaches of the Food Act early last month.
"Woolworths always wants to do better, it wants to improve its systems, it wants to improve its training," he said.
Magistrate Janelle Brassington said there was no evidence anyone was made ill by the products and the risk was low, but given most of the products were for "vulnerable" newborn babies the "existence of any risk was of grave concern".
"This is not a trivial or technical breach, it is a serious breach of the act," she said.