Retail group fined over food hygiene offences

Dirt to lip of ice cream freezer in shop
Dirt to lip of ice cream freezer in shop
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Food had to be removed from a village shop on four occasions and destroyed after safety inspectors found it posed a risk to public health.

McColls store in Lytham Road, Warton, came under suspicion after customer complained milk bought there caused him to vomit repeatedly.

Debris and dirt  beneath the shelves in store room.

Debris and dirt beneath the shelves in store room.

Altogether 465 items of food and drink, including many high risk items such as sandwiches, cheese and yoghurt had to be seized and thrown away, because they were being stored at the wrong temperature in chiller units.

McColls Retail Group Limited, based in Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to 12 food hygiene offences.

The company was fined £7,600 with £1,140 costs and £120 victims’ surcharge by District Judge James Hatton sitting at Blackpool Magistrates’ Court who commented: “There was substantial risk to health had anyone consumed these items.”

Clare Holmes, prosecuting for Fylde Borough Council, said on June 18 last year environmental health officers visited the Warton shop following a customer’s complaint milk bought there had made him repeatedly vomit.

Food in the chillers such as cream cakes and pies was being kept at too high a temperature. A packet of ham was found to be “blown” with the packaging extending. The food was immediately removed from sale and staff agreed to stop deliveries of high risk food. But the next day when inspectors returned, they found there had been another delivery and that food had to be removed.

The prosecutor said: “High risk foods, likely to support the growth of pathogenic micro-organisms and toxins, were being kept at too high a temperature, which posed a danger to health.”

On June 21 inspectors again went to the shop following another complaint from a member of the public the chillers were not working properly. Again food being stored had to be removed, as it did also on August 1 because it was at too high a temperature.

Inspectors also found dirt debris and rubbish, a leaking pipe, and damaged flooring in parts of the shop, plus dirty drawers beneath a hot dog machine. On March 4 when safety officers visited they found conditions at the shop satisfactory.

Richard Orridge, for the company, said it owned 1,300 shops and had a good food safety record. When a customer complained of vomiting after drinking milk bought at the Warton shop, the complaint was not reported up the company’s chain of command, where action would have been immediately taken.

The company had spent £13,000 on new equipment and repairs at the shop which now had a good hygiene rating.

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