Tony Morris suffered the embarrassing episode after popping into his local store at Carlton, near Nottingham, to pick up a few bits and pieces for his tea. He went to pay at the self-service checkout – only to be told by his computerised cashier that he would need to verify his age to buy the bag of mixed nuts and the pair of slippers (geddit?).

Further evidence that everyone’s a fruit and nut case duly arrived when a member of staff and a security guard told him it was in case he planned to ferment the products to make alcohol.

Housing association scheme manager Mr Morris told the Daily Mirror: “I thought I was going nuts. I could not believe what I was hearing. It was going well until I put my bag of mixed nuts and bananas through the scanner, to find red lights flashing and the blue screen saying it needed age verification.

“I stood at the machine wondering what I had done wrong to attract so much attention and staring. I said I wasn’t even buying alcohol and they wanted proof of age at first and told me that sometimes it goes off for alcohol-related products. They said are you planning to ferment it to make alcohol? I responded by saying ‘I’m a teetotaller and I’m 50 years old’.”

He told the Nottingham Post: “Although staff laughed it off it is embarrassing when you are highlighted for doing nothing wrong. Do I need to take my passport and driving licence to purchase my breakfast?”

A Tesco spokeswoman said: “We don’t age-restrict the sale of nuts – our store team have rechecked all the nuts in the store to ensure this is the case.”

In another recent incident a 37-year-old woman was asked to prove she was over 18 when buying a snack pack of water melon and grapes from Tesco in Plymouth. She was subsequently told that “fruit will be age verified in case natural fermentation takes place” – although the supermarket later apologised and said this was a joke.