Sainsbury's facing prosecution over excess packaging on beef joint

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Trading standards bosses today confirmed they are prosecuting a major supermarket for allegedly putting too much packaging on a joint of beef.

A Sainsbury's store in Tritton Road, Lincoln, is accused of failing to meet the "essential requirements" of packaging.

A court hearing is due to take place on October 13, an official at Lincoln Magistrates' Court confirmed.

The charge states the store, on or before February 17, placed packaging on the market which did not meet essential requirements.

It said: "Namely the packaging volume of a Taste the Difference Slow Matured Ultimate Beef Roasting Joint was not limited to the minimum adequate amount to maintain the necessary level of safety, hygiene and acceptance for the said beef roasting joint."

Peter Heafield, head of Trading Standards at Lincolnshire County Council, said they investigated the matter after a complaint from a customer.

He said: "Excessive packaging on goods can cause unnecessary damage to the environment and increases costs associated with recycling and landfill.

"Lincolnshire County Council has a duty to enforce regulations which require businesses to review and reduce their packaging so that items are packaged only in a way that is necessary for issues such as protection of the product and consumer acceptance.

"The council's Trading Standards service has worked to help and support many businesses in reducing their packaging where possible.

"Following a consumer complaint about a product available in Sainsbury's, Trading Standards carried out an investigation which has resulted in the matter being brought before the court."

But today Sainsbury's said it was "surprised" by the council's comments.

"We are surprised at the comments made by Lincolnshire County Council, which do not reflect the very positive outcome of our meeting with Lincolnshire's packaging team," a spokesman said.

"In fact, we have been informed that the council, in light of that meeting, is currently looking again at whether it will proceed.

"We were particularly surprised, as the packaging of the product in question has been reduced by 53% since February and is set to be reduced by at least another 10% within the next few months.

"Reducing packaging is a key part of our environmental commitments, which is why we have set an industry-leading target to reduce it by a third by 2015, and we've made great progress to date.

"For example, by stocking basics cereal in bags rather than boxes, we save 165 tonnes of cardboard per year without affecting the quality of the product.

"Packaging is essential to ensure food remains fresh and undamaged, thereby preventing food waste, and we are committed to finding ways to reduce it while ensuring it remains functional."