The founder of Leeds-based food charity The Real Junk Food Project is facing prosecution, after trading officials found the organisation to be selling food past it’s sell by date.
On 11th April, officials found that 444 items which the charity had deemed fit for sale were a cumulative total of 6,345 days past their use-by date.
This has has been deemed in breach of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, and Smith and TRJFP are now facing prosecution under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
The charity aims to “divert surplus edible food destined for waste and make it accessible for human consumption”, and intercepts food from multiple sources including supermarkets, restaurants, and food banks, before transforming that food into edible meals on a Pay As You Feel basis.
With 127 cafés worldwide and three unique ‘sharehouses’, the project claims to have fed at least one million people in the last three years alone, and in the process made a significant effort against the growing issue of senseless food waste both in the UK and abroad.
Adam Smith, who co-founded TRJF in 2013, has defended his organisation, saying: “We know how to cook. I can prove this food is safe. We haven’t had one complaint in all this time”.
While officials use arbitrary use-by dates to define a food’s edible lifetime, TRJFP uses sight, smell, touch, taste, and common sense to ascertain whether their food is fit for human consumption.
They have always been very honest and open about the food and methods they use, and are adamant that they have never sold any products that could be potentially hazardous to a customer’s health.
However, it is up to the authorities as to whether the breach in food safety regulations is deemed acceptable, but Smith is confident that his charity’s food production operates within the realms of the law.
”I can’t wait to get in a room with this lot [the trading officials who issued the summons]”, he said.
Mr Smith, a professional chef for over 10 years and voted as one of the forty most influential men in 2014 by AskMen, will now be expected to submit any information he believes will help benefit his case in the investigation process, before any further action will be taken.
Supporters are organising a PAYF Pavement Picnic on the street outside the hearing on Nepshaw Lane in Morley in solidarity with the cause. You can find out more information and RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/152186588656783/