Thursday 29 February 2024
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Nottinghamshire store owner banned from selling fresh food after fridges found to be running warm

The director of a food store in Nottinghamshire has been ordered to pay a total of £1,000 after breaching food hygiene regulations.

Council environmental health officers found fridges running too warm and numerous items for sale that were beyond their use-by date when they inspected Zosia Market Ltd, in Bridge Street, Mansfield.

Karolina Wegiera, aged 24, from Mansfield, was also banned from selling fresh food after admitting five charges under food hygiene regulations in connection with her business.

The offences, in contravention of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, were:

  • two offences for placing unsafe food on the market on 8 September 2021 and 12 October 2021;
  • two offences for failing to put in place, implement and maintain proper food safety procedures between 8 September 2021 and 23 March 2022 and also on 8 November 2022;
  • one offence of keeping food which was likely to support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins at a temperature above 8°C.

Mansfield Magistrates’ Court last week (Thursday 15 December) fined her £80 for each offence and ordered her to pay a victim surcharge of £34 and costs of £566.

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The Hygiene Prohibition Order imposed on her selling any fresh food, or food that has a use-by date, will limit her to managing only shops with dry or frozen goods in future.

Mansfield District Council prosecuted the supermarket store owner after a routine food hygiene inspection of the premises in September 2021.

Environmental Health Officers found for sale 83 items of foodstuff with expired or no use-by dates. During a follow-up inspection a month later, inspectors found for sale another 35 items of foodstuff with expired or no use-by dates.

The inspectors visited the shop again in March 2022 when they checked the refrigerators containing foods which, according to food hygiene regulations, should have been stored below 8°C.

One fridge was found to be displaying a temperature of 18.6°C and the temperature of a cheese product within the refrigerator was found to be 19.6°C.

The court was told that these temperatures could support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms or the formation of toxins which could be a health risk.

The council’s investigation found there were inadequate procedures in place to ensure food safety at the premises and, during an interview under caution with Karolina Wegiera in April 2022, she made admissions and provided no credible defence to the alleged offences put to her, the magistrates were told.

In mitigation, the court heard the business venture had been a disaster and had cost Karolina Wegiera £60,000 over the past 18 months since opening and that she intended to shut the shop in the new year because it was not profitable.

Speaking after the case, Cllr Marion Bradshaw, Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities, Housing and Wellbeing, said: “We hope this case sends a strong message out to all food outlets in our district.

“Food hygiene rules are there for our safety and it is important that every shop and food retailer abides by them rigorously. This retailer now has a criminal record and all the implications of that as well as being severely curtailed in what types of foods she is able to sell in the future.

“We also hope it sends out a clear warning to retailers about maintaining safe fridge temperatures. It may seem tempting to turn down the dial a few notches to save energy costs in the current economic challenges, but as this case shows, it could be a false economy.”

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