Holland and Barrett fined £30,000 for mice infestation
By poppy_smith | Wednesday, September 19, 2012, 18:31
Islington Council has brought high street name Holland & Barrett to book for a serious breach of public health after repeated instructions from environmental health officers were ignored.
On 13 September, Highbury Magistrates' Court heard the health food brand - which trades under the slogans 'We're good for you' and 'You wouldn't get that anywhere else' - plead guilty on seven charges under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006.
Fines totalling £30,000 were imposed with costs totalling £2,342.86 on top.
Packaged food was found to be heavily gnawed by rodents and shelves and stock contaminated with mice faeces.
Cllr Paul Smith, Islington Council's executive member for environment, said: "We're on the side of residents and work hard to make sure food in Islington is safe.
"In this case, by ignoring our environmental health officers' repeated interventions, the store put the public's health at risk.
"The size of the fine indicates how seriously the judge took this breach of public health."
On 24 November 2011, Islington Council Environment Health Officers carried out an unannounced food hygiene inspection of Holland and Barrett, 31 Upper Street, London N1 0PN.
Extensive mice droppings were found on food shelving and underneath the counters where there was also a strong smell of rodent urine.
Packets of nuts and seeds had been gnawed and food debris was present. Shelves and packets were sticky - indicating that they had been urinated on by mice.
A basement stockroom was similarly contaminated.
The store manager was issued with a report detailing the required remedial action needed.
On 1 December 2011, a second inspection was made. More mice droppings were found on the sales floor and shelving. In addition rat's faeces were found in the rear of the stockroom.
Environmental Health Officers issued another report requiring the store to be urgently deep cleaned and disinfected and contaminated and damaged food to be removed.
On 2 December 2011, a further unannounced re-visit was undertaken by council officers. Mice faeces were found in-between packets of popcorn on the sales floor and on shelving.
Contrary to the instruction given during past the visits, stating that they should be placed in durable lidded containers, packets of food were again found stored on open shelves, rendering them vulnerable to attack by mice.
Offences included contamination, failing to keep the premises clean, failing to ensure adequate procedures to control pests, and failure to adequately supervise/instruct/train staff.
In a separate, landmark prosecution for Islington Council, proprietor Cebrial Imrek of Crystal Restaurant, 522 Holloway Road, N7 6JD pleaded guilty to eighteen food hygiene and public health offences.
He also pleaded guilty to identical offences on behalf of his company Ogul Imrek Ltd of which he is the sole director.
Fines and costs totalled £11,137.50
It was the first time in Islington a magistrate has issued a Hygiene Prohibition Order against a business operator.
Kebab shop owner Mr Imrek is prohibited from running or participating in the management of any food business in the country for two years due to his attitude to managing food safety.
He pleaded guilty to eighteen food hygiene offences under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006 relating to an absence of food safety management controls and checks.
It wasn't the first time the premises had come to the attention of Islington Council's environmental health team. In 2011 Mr Imrek pleaded guilty to eight food hygiene offences was fined a total of £1,600, had to pay a victim's surcharge of £15 and the council's costs of £1,000.