A Coventry food warehouse has been ordered to pay over £20,000 after an extensive rat infestation was discovered by Coventry City Council food officers.
The company was given a total penalty of £21,790 by magistrates – with a £5,000 fine for each of the four offences and instructions to pay £1,020 investigatory costs and £600 legal costs alongside a £170 victim surcharge.
The breaches were discovered after food officers visited the Malpol Food Warehouse on 17 March 2017.
Cllr Patricia Hetherton, Coventry City Council’s Chair of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee, said:
“We all trust that when we buy food that’s been packaged or prepared before it reaches us that it’s been done in a clean and safe environment. Malpol Foods breached this consumer trust and put people at risk by failing in their duty to keep their premises clean and free of pests by operating around a massive infestation and not providing any means to clean.
“The severity of these breaches is reflected by the large fine that was issued in court – I hope this serves as a reminder to all food companies that we take our investigative duties very seriously and will prosecute those that fail to do their duty to protect consumers.”
Malpol Food, of Unit 4, Marshbrook Close, was found in breach of four Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 and Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs.
The company was found guilty of failure to keep the premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition, failure to ensure layout, design, construction and the size of the food premises permits good food hygiene practices including protection against contamination, and in particular pest control, failure to protect food from contamination and failure to put in place adequate procedures to control pests at Coventry Magistrates Court on Monday 25 June 2018.
Magistrates heard that officers found rat droppings over the floor, on pallets and racking and on food and drink items. The stench of rodent urine was prevalent throughout the site and officers could see grease and rodent hairs as well as evidence of chewed food.
They also discovered there was no hot water or cleaning materials on site. In light of what was discovered and the risk to people’s health, officers made the decision to close the site with immediate effect and stop the business trading.
The business closed voluntarily and paperwork was issued to the Food Business Operator (FBO) detailing the work required before the business would be allowed to reopen.
Officers returned to the premises on 24 March 2017 at the request of the FBO to evaluate rat activity and to check if required improvements such as cleaning and pest proofing had been done. Improvements had been made and the business was reopened.