Asda pleaded “not guilty” when it appeared in a Swindon magistrates court on February 5 to answer 20 charges relating to the use-by date of food in its north Swindon store.

Swindon council food safety officers said it found 37 items of food on display which were between one and 12 days past their use-by date and another four which did not carry any use-by date when they visited the Asda store on a routine inspection in March 2002. The charges related to meat, seafood, sauces and a sandwich.

A spokesman for Asda said it treated anything of this nature very seriously. The alleged offences were in breach of food labelling regulations and the Food Safety Act, which aim to ensure food subject to microbiological deterioration is sold while safe to eat.

The case has been adjourned and the date set for a pre-trial hearing is March 24.