Fraudulent food supplements supplier fined after Oxfordshire complaint

The Vitastore food supplement pills were found to be up to 99 per cent deficient of the ingredients advertised. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council
The Vitastore food supplement pills were found to be up to 99 per cent deficient of the ingredients advertised. Photo: Oxfordshire County Council

A fraudster whose company sold fake food supplement pills was handed a suspended prison sentence and fined after a complaint from an Oxfordshire-based customer.

The pills sold by Rakesh Odedra's company Dirro Group Ltd, trading as Vitastore, were found to have up to 99 per cent deficient in the alleged active ingredients by trading standards officers at Oxfordshire County Council.

The 38-year-old, from Ilford, London, was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 240 hours of unpaid work after pleading guilty to fraud at Oxford Crown Court on September 26.

He was also given a two-year conditional discharge for other food regulatory offences and ordered to pay £6,000, while his company was fined £24,000.

Jody Kerman, from 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."

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 per cent deficient.

As a result of the investigation, Odedra was charged with a range of food fraud offences, both as an individual and as the company.

These offences were under the Food Safety Act 1990, The Nutrition and Health Claims (England) Regulations 2007 and the Fraud Act 2006.