Donors stop supplies to food charity over probe

Adam Smith.
Adam Smith.

Donors to a Leeds charity which provides meals on a “pay-as-you-feel” basis have temporarily suspended supplies to the trust the over an investigation into the use-by dates of its food.

West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTS) is looking into the Real Junk Food Project (RJFP).

The charity uses surplus produce which would otherwise be thrown away or go to landfill – donated by supermarkets – to provide meals for people who can pay as much as they like or nothing.

Volunteer chefs judge the quality of the food based on its smell, taste and touch and serve it at locations such as the Armley Junk-tion Cafe.

But now Sainsbury’s and Neighbourly - an organisation which provides surplus produce donated by Marks and Spencer and other stores - have both suspended their partnerships with charity until the outcome of the investigation.

In an online statement, RJFP said: “Imagine the dozens of tons of perfectly edible food now about to be wasted because of a knee-jerk reaction. Neighbourly & Sainsbury’s need to see common sense, and quick.”

Mr Smith was told in a letter from WYTS that “offences may have been committed” under food safety and hygiene regulations.

The charity says that no offences have been committed and nobody has become ill as a result of the food it has served.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson: “Everyone we work with must meet legal food safety standards as a condition of partnership, so we’ve had to suspend collections with this partner in West Yorkshire while the investigation is in progress. In the meantime we’ll continue to donate through other local partners in this community to ensure surplus food continues to go to those in need.”

A Neighbourly spokesperson said: “Food safety is our top priority and we work with our charity partners to ensure that the advice on the packaging is followed. We are currently in discussions with the Real Junk Food Project in Leeds on their approach and whilst the discussions are underway the surplus food donations from our partners will be diverted to other charities in the local area.

“We are continuing to work with and support other RJFPs in the UK. We agree with the call for a review of date labels and look forward to being involved in the debate.”