A BUSINESSWOMAN has been landed with a £13,500 legal bill for duping customers into buying “edible” cupcake glitter made out of shredded plastic - which ended up in the food chain.

Protesting her innocence, Ed Able Art Ltd boss Margaret Martin claimed the name of her firm was inspired by three animated mice characters called Ed, Able and Art.

Her Durham-based firm sold decorative glitter, meant for use on greetings cards, to sugar craft suppliers and cake shops by convincing them it could be eaten.

One victim of the fraud was a cake business which produced glittered cupcakes coated with the tiny pieces of shredded plastic and sold them to the public.

Magistrates in Leeds, West Yorkshire, imposed a penalty of £13,515 in fines and costs on Martin and her business.

Martin, of Stanhope Close, Spennymoor, County Durham, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £2,000 costs.

Her company based on the Elddis Business Park, Finchale Road, Pity Me, Durham, was fined £3,500 with £8,000 costs.

The court heard the plastic material used for the decorations is not edible, and was normally used for bottling soft drinks.

Its chemical name is polyethylene terephthalate, it is manufactured as craft material, and its effect on the human digestive system is unknown. It should not be eaten, the hearing was told.

EdAble Art Ltd ignored repeated advice from its local Trading Standards department in Durham and continued to misleadingly market the glitter as edible, it was said.

Charges were brought under the Food Safety Act 1990 for supplying food not of the nature demanded and the Food Additives (England) Regulations 2009 for supplying a non-approved Food Additive.

She was also prosecuted under the General Food Regulations 2004 for failure to supply information to the local authority and the Companies Act 2006 for failure to disclose company information.

She denied the offences - but was convicted after a three-day trial.

Councillor Val Slater, who chairs the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said “If the company had followed previous advice issued by both their Local Authority and the Food Standards Agency these proceedings would not have been brought.

“No consumer would want to eat this product if they knew its true composition.”

Martin was one of the first casualties of a purge launched last year by West Yorkshire Trading Standards, following a survey that found many highly popular cakes were decorated with inedible plastic or metal glitter.

Graham Hebblethwaite, Chief Officer of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said: “Anyone manufacturing cup cakes to sell should make detailed checks on what they are buying as ingredients.

“Anyone buying cakes with glitter decorations should ask the baker what the glitter is actually made of before eating them.

“Do not assume that plastic glitter would just pass through the digestive system without causing harm, because no-one actually knows.”

Martin intially faced 24 charges. Twelve were dropped during the trial, but she was convicted of 12 offences under the Food Safety Act.