Dairy Farm, which operates the Wellcome Supermarket chain, has been fined HK$46,000 (US$5,935) after admitting to six counts of selling expired and improperly labeled food.
The company was also ordered to pay laboratory fees of HK$4,590 by a Kwun Tong magistrates’ court.
It pleaded guilty to selling expired and improperly marked food in three Wellcome stores in Tak Bo Garden in Kowloon Bay, Jade Mansion in Yau Ma Tei and Infinity Eight in Clearwater Bay Road.
Prosecutors said some products sold by the stores, including luncheon meat, sausages and milk, were past their sell-by dates.
Some mandarin and maize were moldy and some ham slices had no expiry labels in violation of the public health and municipal services ordinance.
Dairy Farm has been caught selling expired products 24 times, moldy food 19 times and unmarked items 17 times, the court heard.
Defense lawyers sought leniency from the judge, saying Dairy Farm runs more than 1,000 outlets, making human error unavoidable.
They said employees in each of those stores are instructed to check expiry days five times a day.
Also, they offered a public apology to customers.
However, Magistrate Yu Chun-pong said Dairy Farm’s long history and the size of the business militate against a lighter punishment.
Also, he criticized the company’s compensation system for disgruntled customers, saying it merely shifts responsibility for its shortcomings to consumers.
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