10th July 2019  

As you may or may not know, Lettuce Deliver is now listed on the NSW Food Authorities site for being in breach of a food act.

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We will be listed until October 2019.

We were fined by the NSW Food Authority in October 2018 for selling Cleopatra's Bath Wash in August 2018. A NSW Food Authority representative came onto our premises, confiscated some Cleopatra Products, had them tested and provided us with an analysis and a letter that said we were in breach of the Food Act 2003 and clause 68A Food Regulation 2015.

We had also been warned in December 2015 by the NSW Food Authority for selling Cleopatra Products - but on further questioning were told we had not broken any laws.

In August 2018, we were advised that a new regulation had come into effect which required our supplier to hold a license with the NSW Food Authority for distribution of this product. At the time we were made aware of the new regulation our Solicitor became involved as we were again threatened with a potential fine..... We enquired as to how we obtained the 'new license' as we could buy from Trevor Mahaffey directly (Trevor also supplies our beautiful ACO Certified Beans during the year).

Following our enquiries we were fined $1320.00. Our offence being:

Sold and supplied a raw milk product described as "Cleopatra's Bath Wash" that was not treated, packaged or labelled in a manner to deter human consumption.

I will remind everyone how we sold this product on our website - in a Category on it's own called:

RAW Bath Wash (cosmetic skin treatment only)

with the following description:

Cleopatra's – Bath Wash (cosmetic skin treatment only)
Ingredients: Organic Jersey Bath Wash
For cosmetic skin treatment only. Not suitable for Human Consumption. This bath wash comes from Trevor Mahaffey in Goomboorian who supplies us with his magnificent Certified Organic QLD Beans part of each year. It arrives to us each Monday with a 10 day expiry


We appealed the fine with Revenue's NSW, and that appeal was rejected on the basis that we do not treat (ie. put an additive in the product) to deter human consumption. Our only avenue from there was to bring the breach before a judge. Our Solicitor felt we had a very strong case, but as our friend she advised us not to proceed as the process could be lengthy, costly and a case the NSW Food Authority would not like to lose.....not to mention she knew I had a stroke at work in Aug 2018.

I was rushed to hospital by ambulance. Very scary moment. So for anyone who has spoken to me in the last 11 months, especially while taking your order...those pauses or corrected sentences are the result of the stroke...I have not taken up drinking at work : ) this was the reason I could not represent myself in court....which I really wanted to do.

Being a healthy 40 year old ( I know I can't believe I am 40 and have been taking many of your orders since I was 18 and a junior at Mary's Organics), this was a huge shock to our family which of course rattled us. I have an amazing family who came to our assistance....so for the most part the business continued with me updating our website from hospital, Cheryl & Bob looking after our children and doing all they could in school hours, while Ben basically ran the business and then came to see me after hours. It was a tough month. Thankfully after a little rehabilitation for the most part I am fine.

I tell you all this now as it was one of the main reasons we did not fight the breach in court.

Cleopatra's was always a small line for us (our main business always being Aussie Grown, Certified Organic Fruit & Veg).....but a line I defended and chose to offer on our site as I believed and still believe now that consumers should have the right to choice.

Trevor suggested we should crowd fund to pay for the court costs (something I was not up to doing at the time), while others suggested we could still offer the Cleopatra products under the counter (as many other companies were doing). This did not sit well with me. I never want to do anything I have to whisper about, so this was simply not an option.

I was aware at the time we paid the fine that we would be listed on the NSW Food Authority website as being a business in breach of a food act. This was extremely upsetting ...the only solace being that the breach would be listed on the site so all would know why we were fined.

I cried.....knowing that paying the fine basically conceded we had been wrong. I still fiercely argue that we did nothing wrong. (Strangely, I have never been one to cry about things....but since having the stroke most emotions now bring me to tears....but I am told this is quite normal!)

What I didn't know was that a story would be written last week (01.07.19) naming our business as 'one of the worst' offenders on the named and shamed list. The article also lists other companies who did not store food properly, had improper labelling of food, inappropriate hygiene conditions and had pests on site. None of which we have ever been in breach.

Those of you who know me, and know how seriously I take our organic business can imagine my horror as the calls have rolled in this week about our apparent 'improper labelling' and 'pest issues'.

We have had the NSW Food Authority on our premises in Homebush West numerous times and have never had any other breach. We have been trading for almost 20 years, most of those also as a NASAA Certified Trader which requires ongoing inspections as well as auditing of processes etc.

After reading the article published by the Daily Telegraph I can see how the sentences following the mention of Lettuce Deliver Organics could lead the reader to believe that we were in breach of the mentioned offences.

Our solicitor has become involved again as we relayed the situation we find ourselves in with customers calling to cancel their orders as a direct result of what has been written about us and she has helped us write a letter to the Daily Telegraph asking that the article be removed. Click here to see the letter we have sent to the Daily Telegraph

To think that our reputation has been damaged by a person who considers that selling a product labelled not for human consumption to consumers (in a cosmetic category) because we don't put in an additive (in a sealed product) to deter consumption as one of the worst offences in the food category is hard to understand, not to mention heartbreaking...and I am heartbroken.

Lettuce Deliver's outstanding reputation in the market place has been built on hard work and co-operative trading. With open and honest relationships and friendships with other families working towards a sustainable Australia. We have always paid fair prices for our produce and have provided advice and support to smaller operators to assist the industry to grow to what it has become today. We have always believed in food integrity and traceability and providing a food system to consumers that has at it's core a commitment to human and earth health.....these are the reasons our business has always been held in such high regard and is so well respected by our peers, Farmers and industry leaders.

Our choice to sell Cleopatra's Bath Wash was always about consumer choice. The product has always been clearly labelled that it is not for human consumption which is the reason we were never concerned that we were in breach of any Food Act.

So please set the record straight....if you hear that Lettuce Deliver has done something wrong please direct those people to this story so there is no confusion whatsoever over why we are in breach of a Food Act....and if you have the ability to share this story with your community could you please do so.

For anyone who has not seen the article it is on the Daily Telegraph website (01.07.19) and can only be accessed via a subscription. Click here to see a copy of the article in it's entirety. Please do not subscribe to see the article as we are hoping that by end of business Friday it will be removed. Our Solicitor also indicated that the more hits the article gets will increase it's value to the Daily Telegraph which will come into play when they decide whether or not they will remove it.

Emma x

 

Update: 17th July 2019

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This pic of carrots cannot more clearly sum up the way you have all made me feel since sending out my letter regarding our listing on NSW Food Authorities site for being in breach of a food act. If you missed the letter you can find it here. 

Your messages of love and support for me personally as well as professionally has touched my heart. I have been reminded yet again what an amazing group of people we have in the Lettuce community.

As you can imagine over almost two decades  we have had many families come and go from our delivery runs for a variety of reasons....mainly circumstance or because they just wanted bigger apples : ) ....but I could not bear to think that anyone might leave us because they thought we had been deceptive or had bad food practices which is why it was so important for me to get the story out there.

You embraced the story I wrote, understood my intentions and sent responses that were so heartfelt.

Thank you for sending the love...I needed it and I certainly felt it.

Since sending the letter out to you, the Daily Telegraph has changed the sentence regarding our business from :

One of the worst offences came at Lettuce Deliver Organics at Homebush West, where it was fined $1320 for selling a “raw milk product that was not treated, packaged or labelled in a manner that deters human consumption”.

to....

Lettuce Deliver Organics at Homebush West was fined $1320 for selling a “raw milk product that was not treated, packaged or labelled in a manner that deters human consumption.

Thank you to everyone who contacted the paper directly about the article. I am reminded of the quote by Barbara Mekulski

'Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change.'

This is so true of this experience as well as our collective move towards seeing a sustainable Australia....Where food is grown with integrity and traceability with a commitment to human and Earth health as the major concern.

Emma x