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Trading standards officers are demanding tighter regulations for websites which sell food products after they found three quarters of food for sale on eBay fails relevant hygiene and packaging laws.

Investigators bought 89 products, 65 of which were unfit for sale in a British supermarket (73 per cent). Faulty labelling was the main problem of 51 products, while 12 failed to meet ingredient laws. The survey was carried out over three months of last year by Durham Trading Standards funded by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

Dried meat products were incorrectly labelled and packaged. A "home made" cake arrived mouldy. Officers are concerned about meat products arriving from outside the EU, and warn consumers to stay away from the tinned, deep fried insects from Thailand - apparently they have high levels of zinc.

LACORS - the national body which helps local councils enforce regulations - said eBay was not acting illegally and was aware of the difficulties of making sellers comply with relevant laws.

LACORS said in a statement: "It [eBay] does offer some guidance on selling food products and has shown its willingness to work with LACORS to address issues of this type. We will be discussing this particular problem with them in the near future."

eBay said it had recently met the FSA, and Durham Trading Standards is "is working actively with them".

The auction giant also said: "If a user is concerned that a seller has contravened any UK food regulations or legal requirements, they should contact eBay. eBay will remove listings that do not comply with legal requirements where we are informed of their existence.

"As a marketplace, eBay aims to provide information for buyers and sellers to enable them to make decisions about items listed on the site. To help people understand what they should look for, eBay provides extensive information about listings of food items on the site - including links to the Food Standards Agency and DEFRA websites." ®

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