Rat infestation leads to fines and bans for food factory owners

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

The factory was found in a filthy state and infested with rats by inspectors. Credit: Knowsley Council
The factory was found in a filthy state and infested with rats by inspectors. Credit: Knowsley Council

Related tags Health and safety

The former owners of a bakery company in Knowsley have been fined and banned from managing food businesses after pleading guilty to four charges of breaching food hygiene regulations.

The three men appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on 8 February 2024 after it was reported that their factory was filthy and infested with rats.

The routine food safety inspection of Bakery Quality First Ltd took place on 12 January 2023 and was carried out by inspectors from Knowsley Council’s Environmental Health team.

The factory, which produced pastries for Polish shops throughout the North of England, was said to have open food stored in areas where rat activity was noted. The inspection also discovered that foodstuffs had been gnawed by the rodents.

The floor of the production room was contaminated with debris that could provide a source of food for rats and factory was in a very poor state which allowed rats to enter the premises. Holes and gaps were found in the structure of the factory and an open drain was capped off with an empty food can, while a dead rat was found in a bucket near to where food and packaging was stored.

Following the inspection, the owners were told that the premises posed an imminent risk to health, and they voluntarily closed the factory with immediate effect. The Food Standards Agency ordered a withdrawal of foods produced by the business and the company later went into liquidation, prompting Knowsley Council to cease proceedings against the company.

However, the council prosecuted the directors of the company for their neglect in failing to ensure that the company followed food hygiene regulations.

Pawel Steglinski, 49, of Sapling Crescent in Kirkby and Marcin Hajduk, 40, of Warrenhouse Road in Kirkby were each fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £1,300 costs and a £400 victim surcharge, while Piotr Kowalczyk, 52, of Warrenhouse Road in Kirkby was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,175 and a £200 victim surcharge.

The council also requested that the former directors were banned from managing a food business in the future.

During the sentencing, District Judge Healey said that it “must have been obvious that things were starting to go badly wrong​”. He added that while the sought to put in measures, this was done so without alerting the authorities or contacting pest control companies.

Production was also not stopped during this period, which lead the judge to find the directors highly culpable for the offences.

In other news, Kerry Group has reported its preliminary results for 2023, with revenue down 8.6% to just over €8m​.

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