Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 12.42.49FOOD hygiene offences cost a Stockton butcher more than £4,600 in costs and fines following a successful prosecution by Stockton Council.

Andrew James Marley, 52, of Dunelm Road, Stockton, food business operator of Marley’s Butchers Limited, Spencer Market Hall, Stockton was fined £3,600 and ordered to pay £1,013.19 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £60 after pleading guilty to six offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.

Teesside Magistrates heard today (Tuesday 28 April) that a routine inspection by Stockton Council’s environmental health officers on 11 September 2014 found floors, storage areas food equipment and fridges in the shop to be in a filthy condition.

Contrary to national Food Standard Agency guidance and advice given by Stockton Council’s environmental health officers, ready-to-eat food was found to have been vacuum packed in the raw food vacuum packing machine, risking cross-contamination. Ready-to-eat food, including salad items, was also stored below, and adjacent to, raw meat and raw meat packaging.

There was no hot running water to the toilet wash basin and staff had not received appropriate food hygiene training relevant to their duties. There was also a failure to put a suitable food safety management system in place.

In mitigation Mr Marley said that the hygiene issues on the day of inspection were made worse by a recent refurbishment which meant important new equipment wouldn’t fit into the premises.

He said that training and systems were now in place to help staff address cleaning, disinfecting and stock rotation issues.

Mr Marley accepted that the cross-contamination risks posed by the misuse of the vacuum packing machine were ultimately his responsibility.

Peter Kelly, Stockton’s Director of Public Health, said: “Environmental Health officers work constantly to inspect food premises because people have the right to expect high food hygiene standards both in places where they go to eat and in shops that sell food.

“This case is a serious reminder to owners of food premises that it is ultimately their responsibility – not that of their employees – to make sure good standards of hygiene are upheld and appropriate food management systems are in place.

“In this case officers had provided advice on several occasions to ensure standards were being met at Marley’s.  During the subsequent inspection of the premises in September it was clear this advice had been ignored and the unacceptable level of hygiene and poor state of cleanliness was immediately apparent.

“This prosecution shows that if owners and food business operators flout the law the Council will take action to protect the public, as we have done today.”

Anyone with concerns about a food business can contact Stockton Council on 01642 526569 or check hygiene ratings on the Food Standards Agency website