The company that manufactures Tayto and Hunky Dory crisps has been prosecuted and fined €2000 for selling ‘gluten-free’ branded crisps with high level of gluten.
Largo Foods, based in Ashbourne, Co. Meath was prosecuted by HSE officers under Regulation (EC) 178 of 2002 which legislates for food safety.
The company paid fines of €2000 after the admission at Navan District Court last month that it sold crisps containing a high levels of gluten in a packet that was advertised as gluten-free, the Irish Times reported.
In May last year, a mother from Arklow, Co Wicklow, bought a 50g packet of O’Donnell’s Mature Irish Cheese and Onion gluten-free crisps for her 10-year-old son. However, she noticed he was beginning to suffer a reaction to the crisps when his ears turned red. The mother complained to the company and the HSE subsequently brought the case.
Judge Gráinne Malone at Navan District Court said that the case was “a very serious matter” and the court was told the maximum penalty on indictment in the Circuit Court was a €500,000 fine and/or three years in prison. However, the judge accepted jurisdiction of the District Court in the case.
Giving evidence, HSE environmental health officer Caitriona Sheridan said that in order for a product to be labelled gluten-free it was required to have less than 20 parts-per-milligram (ppmg) gluten.
When the crisps that were the subject of the complaint were tested, they were found to have more than 700ppmg gluten. A second sample had more than 100ppmg gluten.
Largo admitted it sold crisps containing a high amount of gluten in a packet that was supposed to be gluten-free. Counsel for the company, Andrew Whelan, told the court the issue was identified as malfunction in the line. “My client’s response to this had been ‘hands up’,” he said.
Mr Whelan told the court that Largo, which the court was told has an annual turnover of €90m, had spent €100,000 to remedy the problem and gluten-fee products were now packaged in a “totally segregated” production area. “We are confident that this problem will not happen again,” he said.
Source: The Irish Sun.