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HACKNEY LBC'S APPEAL COURT VICTORY FOR CONSUMERS

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Hackney LBC's commercial standards unit has secured a victory for consumers to have the right to know what is in th...
Hackney LBC's commercial standards unit has secured a victory for consumers to have the right to know what is in the food they are eating.

In the first such decision made in the UK, the appeal court upheld the requirement to label food products in English. The case is the first time these issues have been brought before a higher court and set an important precedent.

Last year Hackney LBC was unsuccessful in its attempts to prosecute an importer/wholesaler (who has now gone out of business) for selling soft drinks labelled entirely in a foreign language. Hackney LBC's appeal of this decision was heard by the court on April 21, 1999.

Richard Robinson, Hackney's principal environmental health officer, said: 'This is a major victory for the consumer. People have a right to know what is in the food they are eating. Our role is to enforce food law in the borough, through advice or legal action as necessary.

'We will continue to protect the public in Hackney, even if that means we have to challenge a court's decision to do so.' Lord Justice Kennedy, vice president of the queens bench division, and Mr Justice Mitchell, the judges who ruled in Hackney's favour, overturned the decision of Thames magistrates. The judges confirmed that it is a legal requirement to provide labels in English on foods sold in this country. This includes the name of the item, and the list of ingredients.

Geoff Wadds, acting director, Britsh Soft Drinks Association, said: 'I hope this ruling will underline the message already circulated to wholesalers and retailers that supplying these products is an offence and that other local authorities will be encouraged to take action, like Hackney, to ensure legal compliance.'

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