A Portsmouth baker was fined £5,000 and banned from operating a food business in the UK after environmental health officers found a robin flying around his mice-infested premises.
The ban was the last resort for environmental health officers at Portsmouth City Council who had been working with Justin O’Malley of Portsmouth Bakers to improve his bakery’s hygiene.
O’Malley took over the running of the bakery in May 2010. On a routine inspection, environmental health officers discovered mouse droppings, a build-up of food debris, grease and dirt and spotted a robin flying about. After repeated visits to the bakery and numerous recommendations, conditions failed to improve. The robin was spotted twice.
Steve Bell, commercial team leader at Portsmouth City Council, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We don’t just walk into a business at the start of the process and decide we’re going to ban them. When we find an issue on our routine visits we try to work with the business to resolve it.
“It’s a ramped approach. If they’re having trouble we will issue hygiene improvement notices. The next stage is that we have the power to close a business if we feel the hygiene is a risk.”
Failing to control pests
Portsmouth City Council charged O’Malley with five food hygiene charges, including failing to keep the premises clean, failing to control pests, failing to have a proper food safety monitoring system and two counts of failing to obey an improvement notice.
O’Malley did not appear at his trial and was found guilty in his absence. He was fined £5,000, ordered to pay £2,220 costs and banned from operating a food business in the UK.
The ban is indefinite and O’Malley will need to return to court to have it overturned if he wants to run another food business in the UK.
Bell said: “It’s the first time we’ve banned a business from operating since the legislation came into force in 2006. It’s an extreme step but if we feel the operator has demonstrated a complete lack of care for food hygiene we can apply for the banning order. The court will look at the circumstances and make the decision.”
Consistent disregard of advice
He said O’Malley allowed the bakery to degenerate over a long period of time despite repeated visits.
“We try to work with people but if there is consistent disregard of our advice and recommendations our options diminish and the enforcement of the ban is the final sanction.
“It’s down to the attitude of the individual. If you want to operate a business you have to stick to good hygiene practice and where’s there’s a will there’s a way. Unfortunately not everyone shares this attitude.”
The bakery changed hands before the court case and the current business on the site has no connection with O’Malley.