Farm shop banned from trading for selling chicken contaminated with fly eggs

A Heckfield farm shop has been fined and banned from operating a food business after selling chicken pieces containing fly eggs.

Farm Catering Ltd, trading as Holdshott Farm Shop, was ordered to pay over 37,000 for its poor food hygiene practices.

Basingstoke Magistrates Court fined the business director, Kathleen David, and the manager, Roger David, 6,000 plus an additional 5,309 costs and 100 victim surcharge. The couple pleaded guilty to eight food hygiene offences, resulting in the court reducing the fine per offence to 4,000 leaving a final total of 37,409.

As well as selling chicken pieces containing fly eggs, other offences included selling meat pies, which had been kept at 4.5C above legal refrigeration requirements and were therefore considered to be a high-risk food. All of the recorded incidents took place between 7 April 2015 and 15 March 2016.

Hart District Council Environmental Health became involved with the investigation after the business had already received poor hygiene results from regular inspections and complaints from the public.

We have continually provided support and guidance to Farm Catering Ltd to try and assist them to comply with the food hygiene regulations, said Nick Steevens, head of regulatory services at Hart District Council.

Despite our continued efforts to support this business, food safety inspections always revealed serious breaches of food hygiene legislation and failings which put customers at risk. The standards of food hygiene at this premises are some of the worst that my officers have experienced.

Steevens highlighted that the business supplied produce to the general public, restaurants, schools and community shops. While we always endeavour to support businesses to ensure they supply safe food, where there are continued breaches or breaches which put the public at risk, it is our obligation to take action to protect the public, he said. The Magistrates considered that the offences were so severe that Farm Catering Ltd should be prohibited from running a food business.

Councillor John Kennett, cabinet member for regulatory services at Hart District Council, explained that taking people to court was always a last resort action. We provide support for organisations who are struggling to maintain their food hygiene practices and offer free help, advice and training, he said.

However the health of residents is our first priority and, when businesses repeatedly ignore normal standards of hygiene, our Environmental Health officers will take action to protect the public. Hundreds of businesses in Hart maintain safe standards and there was no reason why Farm Catering Ltd could not do the same.

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