11 Dec Harlow Council successfully prosecute national retailer Martin McColl
National retailer Martin McColl Ltd has been fined £100,000 after Harlow Council successfully prosecuted the company for multiple food hygiene offences at its Fishers Hatch store in Harlow.
The retailer, which has around 1,600 stores and newsagents across the UK, was fined after a hearing last week on 6 December 2018 at Colchester Magistrates Court.
The company pleaded guilty to three charges under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. As well as a fine, the company will pay Harlow Council’s costs of around £17,000.
In July 2017 a Senior Environmental Health Officer from the Council carried out a routine food hygiene inspection of the Fishers Hatch store. During the inspection, the bain-marie used for heating hot dogs and the oven used for baking pies, pastries, bread and other food for public sale were both in a filthy condition. Both were covered in grease and full of burnt and greasy food deposits and the bottom of the bain-marie was full of greasy water. The base to the milk fridge was encrusted with dried milk residue.
Staff also did not have access to appropriate hand washing facilities to use before and after handling open food. Refrigerated food such as chicken wraps, sandwiches, sausage rolls and cartons of fruit juice were being stored at a temperature in excess of the legal maximum of 8°C. This control of temperature is essential in restricting the growth in numbers of food poisoning bacteria.
At the time of the inspection the store was issued with a food hygiene rating of 0. This is the lowest possible rating and identifies that urgent improvement is necessary.
In passing sentence the judge determined that the business was highly culpable, largely because the company did not sufficiently address similar failings that had been identified by the Environmental Health Officer in May 2016 following a complaint made by a member of the public. The judge noted that the Council had made significant efforts to work with the company to secure compliance and that the remedial action needed was neither complicated nor costly to implement.