£10,000 court bill for Leeds supermarket caught selling chilli that could kill you

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Magistrates have slammed a Leeds supermarket that was caught selling cancer-causing chilli powder as bosses were hit with a £10,000 court bill.

Trading Standards officers found a brand of the spice containing dyes usually used in shoe polish and industrial solvents when they carried out spot-checks at Venus Foods, on Domestic Street in Holbeck, in November 2013.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard the dyes contained carcinogens and were banned in the EU.

Chairman of the bench Jim Mcaulay said: “They have put the public at great risk.

“The safety of the public is paramount in the supply of foodstuffs and to supply products that could cause cancer is of great concern.”

The company, which sells largely Mediterranean goods, was prosecuted for selling the chilli powder, as well as goods that were past their-use by date.

Derek Hallam, prosecuting, said officers found 22 items including cheese, whey and salami that were a combined total of 547 days out of date.

The owners had also breached labelling regulations by having food not labelled in English.

Adrian Smith, who represented company directors Garip and Fatma Esengul, said they were extremely sorry.

He said the couple sourced the chilli powder from a Turkish company which had now been sacked.

He added: “It has brought the company name into disrepute and they have done all they can to make sure these matters will not occur again.”

Mr Smith said the supermarket had improved the Holbeck area. Alluding to its reputation as a red light district, he said: “The area had a reputation for certain other things – I don’t need to say what – and they are now providing a service for the local community.”

The company was ordered to pay £5,400 in fines and about £4,500 in court costs.

A Trading Standards spokesman said: “Traders who import foods from outside the EU must make checks to ensure the items contain only permitted additives and that they are not injurious to heath.

“We will be taking further samples of chilli powder to ensure these dyes do not appear in food sold in West Yorkshire.”