Suspended prison sentence in fraudulent food supplements case brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards

Residents in Oxfordshire have been assured that trading standards will continue to protect them from fraudsters who undermine trust in food businesses after a company was fined £24,000 and its owner given a suspended prison sentence.

Heard at Oxford Crown Court, Mr Rakesh Odedra, of the company Dirro Group Ltd, was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years and ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to a charge of fraud.

Mr Oredra was sentenced for the fraudulent sale of food supplements in a case brought by Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service.

He was given a two-year conditional discharge for other food regulatory offences and ordered to pay £6,000 towards the prosecution’s costs.

In 2016, an Oxfordshire-based customer of the company complained that a food supplement was not having the same effect as other supplements taken previously, which were purchased from other companies. When tested, products purchased from the online seller of food supplements were found to be significantly deficient in the alleged active ingredients, up to 99% deficient.

As a result of an Oxfordshire County Council investigation, Rakesh Odedra, the sole director of Dirro Group Ltd (trading as Vitastore), was charged with a range of offences, both as an individual and as the company itself. These offences were under the Food Safety Act 1990, The Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007and the Fraud Act 2006.

On 26 September 2018, Mr Odedra pleaded guilty at Oxford Crown Court to a charge of fraud, having previously pleading guilty to all other charges against himself and his company.

The company was fined a total of £24,000 (£5,000 per Food Safety Act offence and £3,000 per Nutritional and Health Claims Regulation offence).

Jody Kerman, from Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards, said:

“When it comes to food products and supplements, we are all vulnerable consumers who need to have faith and trust in the accuracy of labels and descriptions.

“Food fraud can range from a local isolated issue, all the way to the national horsemeat incident of 2013 and therefore needs to be tackled at every level. Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards Service will take all appropriate action to help ensure that our county has thriving communities and a thriving economy.

“Food fraud is a serious matter that undermines public trust in food businesses and therefore our role is to not only protect purchasers, but to also support the vast majority of honest businesses by tackling rogue traders."