TRJFP could face prosecution for selling out-of-date food destined for landfill, after West Yorkshire Trading Standards (WYTSS) said it found more than 400 items past their use-by date in its Leeds warehouse.
A letter sent to RJFP from WYTSS states 444 items, which were a cumulative total of 6,345 days past the use-by dates, were discovered in the charity’s warehouse in Pudsey, Leeds.
WYTSS said project founder, Adam Smith, was invited to attend an “formal recorded interview under caution” to discuss offences which may have been committed under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Mr Smith said he hoped the meeting would help create a debate around the legislation.
Following from the meeting, Mr Smith said he had not appreciated the “significance” of this matter for the charity until he was contacted by a specialist legal adviser.
Since then, Neighbourly, the social platform that connects local projects with people and organisations who want to help, informed the charity that it intended to “suspend” food surplus donations from Armley Junk-tion in Leeds, citing TRJFP had not complied with terms and conditions.
A letter sent from Neighbourly stated: “We are therefore going to suspend food surplus donations to you until we’ve had the opportunity to review the situation further. During this time you will not be approved to collect food from the partners associated with the Neighbourly Food programme.”
Both Sainsbury’s and M&S have now also suspended partnerships with TRJFP.
M&S – “We’re in discussions with the Real Junk Food Project in Leeds on their approach, and in the meantime, our stores in Leeds will donate surplus food to other local charities to help feed those in need.”
A spokesperson for Sainsbury’s said the suspension was a “precautionary measure”.
They said: “Donating surplus food to charity is very important to us and we have over 1,100 store partnerships. 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 Marks & Spencer spokesperson said: “We have robust systems in place to ensure we do not sell food passed its use-by date to our customers and its important our charity partners have measures in place to ensure the on-pack advice is followed.
“We’re in discussions with the Real Junk Food Project in Leeds on their approach, and in the meantime, our stores in Leeds will donate surplus food to other local charities to help feed those in need.”
RJFP has 127 cafes in seven countries across the world. It describes itself as a “revolutionary concept designed to challenge and highlight the issues of food waste while creating inclusive environments where everyone is welcome.
“Consisting of cafés, outside catering, events, Sharehouse’s and Fuel For School, we use the Pay As You Feel Concept to utilise surplus food, educate the general public and campaign against global issues that food waste creates.
“We intercept surplus food from a wide range of places including supermarkets, restaurants, wholesalers, food banks, food photographers and using common sense and decades of experience make a judgment on whether the food is fit for human consumption.”
M&S has been contacted for comment.