Gerard Agnew, former director of Melbourne-based Farmgate Foods Ltd, was prosecuted by South Cambridgeshire District Council for multiple food safety offences.
Health inspectors were alerted to the premises in July last year, after neighbours complained of a bad smell coming from the building. Upon arrival, inspectors found the kitchen in a general state of disrepair, with items covered in grease, dirt and old food, as well dirty and broken equipment.
It was also quickly established that the site was producing cooked meat for use in ready-to-eat food items, such as sandwiches and salads, despite only having a permit to slice raw meat to be sold as bacon.
Operations at Farmgate were ceased immediately following the visit on food safety grounds. The council withdrew its approval for food production at the factory immediately after.
Agnew appeared at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 15 August, where he admitted to seven food safety breaches. He was fined £7,000, ordered to pay costs of £8,000 and a surcharge of £100.
Commenting on the state of the Farmgate site, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s lead cabinet member for environmental services and licensing Bill Handley said: “Companies that prepare and provide food products have a responsibility to do so in safe and hygienic conditions and, in this case, they clearly failed to do so.
Food hygiene law
“The food hygiene and safety standards, practices and procedures are enshrined in law and are there for very good reason, and it is the company’s duty to make sure they are in place and that they abide by them.”
Handley added that prosecutions like the one levelled against Farmgate were uncommon in the area and were always a last resort.
“However, we make no apologies for intervening and taking legal action and, if necessary, we will do so again, especially if there’s a danger that someone could become ill,” he warned. “Anyone handling food should take note.”
Meanwhile, last month, a Bolton-based meat processor was fined £22,000 after producing kebabs from a factory that health inspectors claimed resembled a building site.