Skip to main content
Posted On: 03-03-2020
Posted In: Community

Image of food waste and clutter in the kitchen of The White HartThe White Hart at Cullompton, was convicted and sentenced last Thursday at Exeter Magistrates having pleaded guilty to six food hygiene offences.

Public Health Officers from Mid Devon District Council attended Exeter Magistrates on Thursday, 27 February 2020 to hear the sentencing of The White Hart At Cullompton Ltd, before District Judge Matson. The offences were:

  • Failure to keep the food premises clean, maintained in good repair and condition by the filthy condition of the kitchen, equipment and utensils.
  • Failure to effectively clean and disinfect articles, fittings and equipment, with which food comes into contact at a frequency sufficient to avoid any risk of contamination by the filthy condition of articles, fittings and equipment.
  • Failure to store raw materials and ingredients in appropriate conditions designed to prevent harmful deterioration and protect them from contamination by deteriorating food stored in the kitchen.
  • Failure to remove food waste from rooms where food is present as quickly as possible. So as to avoid their accumulation with waste food, debris and packaging left out, accumulating on top of and underneath worktops and appliances, and an open and overflowing waste bin.
  • Failure to protect food against any contamination likely to render it unfit for human consumption, injurious to health or contaminated in such a way that it would be unreasonable to expect it to be consumed in that state owing to the poor state of:
    • the kitchen with dirty and unclean worktops, equipment and utensils;
    • filthy wiping cloths on worktops used in food preparation;
    • flies on work surfaces and equipment;
    • no means of allowing the hygienic washing of hands before the handling of food;
    • the storing of food uncovered leading to the presence of mould or purification of foods, and;
    • the microbiological examination of food, including formal food samples, with unsatisfactory results for food and environmental swabs and wiping cloths present with Escherichia coli and Enterobacteriaceae.
  • Failure to put in place, implement and maintain a food safety management system based on HACCP principles with the absence and false recording of management checks.

District Judge Matson said:

“The Defendant pleaded guilty to the offences of breach of food regulations committed on 3 October 2018. The kitchen was found in a filthy condition, with mouldy, rotten and out of date food; food taken away for analysis showed E. coli present. The premises were visited again by Council officers on 11 July 2019 and it was found the kitchen had not improved.
“I have to assess this case using the sentencing guidelines for food hygiene offences. I consider the culpability for the sentencing guidelines to be high. The defendant company fell far short of the appropriate standards. I agree with the prosecution that this is a category 2 case for harm as per the sentencing guidelines. This is a serious offence.
“I have looked at the sentencing guidelines and assess the defendant company to be a micro business. I consider that the guidelines state £12,000 per offence. However, the guidelines state to take into account proportionality particularly actual turnover of the company and the net profit. I consider the fine should be £6,000 but will reduce this to £3,600 due to the guilty plea. I order the Defendant to pay the prosecution costs of £3,000. I also apply the victim surcharge giving a total £6,700.”

Cabinet Member for Community Well-being, Councillor Dennis Knowles, said:

“We're committed to ensuring food standards remain high throughout Mid Devon to safeguard our residents and visitors, and we won't hesitate to utilise the full range of regulatory interventions available to us when tackling high-risk, illegal or poor performing food businesses.
“Given the severity of the conditions in this particular case, both our Public Health and Legal teams did an excellent job intervening and bringing about a closure, followed by a successful prosecution, thereby preventing any members of the public from becoming extremely ill, or worse still losing their lives.”

To find out more:

See initial press release Publican guilty of food hygiene offences following successful Council prosecution, issued 22 January 2020.

For images, see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/98962518@N05/albums/72157713508195281/.