Owners of a Treherbert bakery have been prosecuted by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council after a rat infestation was discovered at their high street shop.
Business operators David and Glynis Phillips of Coronation Bakery, Bute Street pleaded guilty to offences under the Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006. They were each fined £1,000, £200 cost and a victim surcharge of £25.
Coronation Bakery, which now trades as a business that sells fabrics and retails jams that are bought in, was originally registered with Rhondda Cynon Taf under food hygiene legislation as it operated as a bakery.
In February 2013 Environmental Health Officers visited the premises to check whether works requested had been carried out following on from a previous routine food hygiene inspection The business had been awarded a food hygiene rating of two out of five due to the issues that had been identified previously.
During this visit evidence of mice and rat activity was found within the finishing room and service area. The inspectors discovered rat droppings and contaminated food packaging along with several other breaches of food hygiene legislation.
A rodent infestation in a food business poses a serious risk to public health. This is due to the fact that rodents may potentially contaminate surfaces, packaging and foods and spread food borne disease through bodily contact and from their urine and faeces.
Mrs Phillips agreed to close the premises on a voluntary basis until officers were satisfied that the infestation of rodents was eradicated; certain structural works had been undertaken and that equipment had been thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.
Subsequently work was undertaken including pest control treatments, the installation of a new front door and sink unit. Consequently, in March 2013, the closure agreement was revoked and the shop was allowed to open again for business.
Both Mr and Mrs Phillips were interviewed under caution regarding the state of the premises. They could not account for the premises not being in a clean condition, confirming that items such as a freezer, boxes of food packaging and “gallon bottles” had not been moved to facilitate cleaning.
Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court heard how adequate procedures were not in place to control pests, the premises was not being kept clean and food wrapping materials were stored in a manner which exposed them to a risk of contamination.
Head of Community Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, David Jones said;” Successive inspections of the former Coronation Bakery by Environmental Health Officers found problems despite warning letters being issued. These included items of structure and equipment not being kept in a clean condition.
“Food business operators have a clear legal obligation to ensure that their premises are maintained in a clean condition and kept free from pests.
“Mr and Mrs Phillips both claimed that they were unaware that the shop was infested with rodents. Ignorance is not a justifiable excuse; and there was no pest control contract in place prior to the officers’ visit. Therefore we had no option but to prosecute the business operators on this occasion.
“Environmental Health and Trading Standards officers, regularly visit, inspect and advise thousands of businesses across Rhondda Cynon Taf to ensure standards are high and the law is followed.
“This work is vital as it ensures the public are protected and that businesses in a position of responsibility are not putting consumers at risk with slack, illegal or unacceptable practices. Identification of such premises will continue with regular, routine inspections, but we also need consumers with information to make contact if they have concerns.”