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School meals firm to pay £18,230 for hygiene offences

A Boston firm which supplied food for children in primary schools throughout South Lincolnshire has been fined £13,800 and ordered to pay £4,300 costs after magistrates heard about filthy conditions at the unit where meals were prepared.

A Boston firm which supplied food for children in primary schools throughout South Lincolnshire has been fined £13,800 and ordered to pay £4,300 costs after magistrates heard about filthy conditions at the unit where meals were prepared.

Boston Magistrates heard on Monday (March 24) that Food for Thought GB Ltd admitted 12 different food hygiene charges involving raw meat being stored next to cooked ready-to-eat ham, dirty cups being supplied to a school, dirty plastic bowls and colanders, dirty and mould-stained cutting boards, dirty floors, flaking paint and dirty walls, dirty cleaning cloths and inadequate labelling of food.

Magistrates reduced the potential fine by 30 per cent in recognition of the guilty pleas. A victim surcharge of £130 was also made.

Environmental Health Officers from Boston Borough Council visited the premises at Unit B8, Boston Trade Park, Norfolk Street, Boston, following  an alert from colleagues at South Holland District Council. There were concerns about the cleanliness of equipment supplied to a school in their area by Food 4 Thought GB Ltd.

A visit to the unit on October 4 found poor standards of hygiene, controls and management.

Caroline Clark and Moira Clark agreed that the standards were not acceptable for premises producing food for vulnerable school children and agreed to deep clean the premises over the weekend.

On October 8 a re-inspection was undertaken and the environmental health officer noted that although a deep clean had been carried out there were still outstanding detailed cleaning issues to be addressed before the premises could be considered to be of an acceptable standard.

Magistrates expressed surprise that someone with even a basic knowledge of food hygiene had not identified issues before the visit.

Because Food 4 Thought was involved in preparing, cooking and distributing meals to primary schools throughout South Lincolnshire, it had been necessary for Boston Borough Council to approve the premises under the European Food Safety Legislation and approval issued which enabled the business, if it chose, to distribute food throughout the EU. Such approved premises are expected to maintain high food safety standards at all times. 

After the hearing Cllr Stephen Woodliffe, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for Environmental Health, said: "It is of paramount importance in any commercial operation supplying food to the public that stringent hygiene standards are maintained at all times, and that is particularly necessary when food is being prepared for children.  The public can be assured that this council will take very decisive action if it believes public safety is at risk, and it is clear from the severity of the fines imposed here that the courts view this breach of public safety very seriously too."

Dirty area under equipment Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Dirt under equipment

Contaminated chopping board Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Mould on a chopping board. The "contamination meter" shows a reading of 7, 329. A reading of 50 is acceptable

Cross-contamination risk in freezer Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Food haphazardly stored in a freezer presenting a risk of cross contamination

Dirt under equipment Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Dirt and decomposing matter under equipment