Crewe targeted in counterfeit crackdown
Cheshire East Trading Standards have joined Cheshire Police, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Health in a crackdown on counterfeit goods in the Crewe area.
Operation Zest saw the organisations target bootlegged and smuggled tobacco and alcohol, unlicensed medicines and food that does not comply with food labelling regulations.
Six food retailers were visited in the Crewe area, including the town centre. All six were found to have not complied with regulations. Enforcement officers found 85 products on sale which were past their ‘use by’ date and seized 71 bottles of alcohol.
Enforcement officers are now working closely with the retailers to prevent this from happening again in the future.
More than 100,000 cigarettes were also seized from an address in Crewe after a warrant was executed on the property.
The sale of illicit tobacco has close links with organised crime. Duty lost to the Treasury from the sale of illicit tobacco products is estimated to be £2.5 billion a year.
HM Revenue & Customs estimate that 45% of all tobacco seizures are counterfeit; cigarettes that have the appearance of a brand cigarette, but are not produced with a license of the trademark owner.
Eating Food beyond its ‘use by’ date increases the risk of food poisoning from the Listeria food bug, which can be life threatening.
Cheshire East Councillor Rachel Bailey, Cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “This is an excellent example of how Cheshire East Council can work with partner agencies to successfully tackle the problem of illicit products, at the same time as acknowledging that some traders simply require further guidance in order to comply with Trading Standards legislation.”
Kay Roberts, head of Cheshire East Council’s Consumer Protection and Investigations Team, added: “This operation shows our ongoing commitment to protecting residents from being sold illicit products. I hope we have sent a clear message that we will use every law enforcement power at our disposal to stop this illegal trade.”
Anyone with concerns about the sale of illicit products is asked to contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111