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Rushcliffe: Bakery to pay £21,000 after mice infestation and hygiene failures

A Rushcliffe bakery was temporarily closed and left with a bill of over £21,000 after an investigation found its premises were infested with mice which had been in food storage and production areas, including some mice found dead and rotting.

Vale Bakery Ltd trading as Belvoir Bakery of Langar Road, Barnstone was found to have a severe, widespread and ongoing mouse problem which had led to contamination of food ingredients, food packaging, equipment and food contact surfaces leaving the premises in filthy conditions.

Bakery temporarily closed and left with a bill of over 21000

Nottingham Magistrates Court heard yesterday (March 26) that despite being aware of ongoing pest activity, the food business failed to take appropriate action to prevent entry into food storage and production areas, maintain clean conditions, protect food from the risk of contamination and ultimately protect the public.

Belvoir Bakery of Langar Rd in Barnstone was fined 21k after failing to protect the public from risk of contamination

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The premises were inspected in September 2022 following complaints received by Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Environmental Health Team.

Officers found evidence which included a dead mouse, mouse droppings and urine, gnawed food packaging and containers, pest nesting materials and contaminated food ingredients.

An investigation found a Rushcliffe bakery premises was infested with mice

The court heard adequate procedures were not in place to manage the risks of contamination of food ingredients by pests and the premises were found to be visibly dirty with poor standards of cleaning observed throughout.

Bakery left with 21k bill and closed over mice and infestation

The business’s failure to implement and maintain adequate pest control procedures resulted in a severe infestation, requiring Environmental Health Officers to immediately close the business due to the imminent and serious risk to health.

The team exercised their powers under emergency legislation to prohibit its business operations and seized a quantity of food which was condemned by the court and destroyed.

Following the investigation, the bakery received a zero-food hygiene rating as a result of their findings. Subsequently, the business requested a rescore and was awarded a 4-food hygiene rating after the introduction of measures to improve hygiene standards and has since reopened.

Vale Bakery Ltd pleaded guilty to seven counts of contravening The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and was fined £1,600, ordered to pay £19,395 costs and a victim surcharge of £640 leaving a total bill of £21,635.

Rushcliffe Borough Council’s Deputy Chief Executive and Director Neighbourhoods Dave Banks said: “This case showed a total disregard for the bakery’s customers and the wider public’s health as the owners were so brazen and did not take the correct measures to avoid pests entering the premises or containing them.

“The conditions of the bakery were frankly awful and we were left with no option but to close it with immediate effect, it’s sadly among the worst cases our officers can recall investigating.

“The court bill sends a very strong and simple message to all food business owners that good compliance makes good business sense and if you place the health of others in jeopardy we will take strong action through the legal channels wherever possible.”

A spokesperson for Vale Bakery said:

“We are extremely sorry that our usual impeccable standards momentarily lapsed.

“We can assure our customers that this was an isolated incident that occurred more than a year ago in 2022 when we were closed for a short period due in part to staff changes we immediately rectified the situation.

“We have since employed a new team of conscientious staff who have been fantastic over the past year or so. They are a loyal and dedicated team who take pride in their work and are committed to maintaining our very high standards.

“We have been fully compliant and cooperated fully with inspectors, ensuring that our regular meticulous cleaning rota is maintained, as is regular pest control monitoring.

“The judge’s fine of £1600 reflects this. She was very sympathetic and understanding as we are a rural business and called it a blip hence the very small fine

“The court also recognised that the risk of harm from the lapse was low and again the low fine handed down reflected this.

“This has been a very stressful period for us as a business and we are extremely grateful to our loyal customers and assure them that we will continue to maintain stringent standards of hygiene that have always been a priority for our business.”

They added that the images are outside in a shed area not the main bakery.

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