Mouse droppings, mould and a build-up of dirt, grime and dust led to the voluntary closure of a Croydon bakery – and a financial penalty of more than £8,500.
The slip in hygiene standards at Bloomers Bakery was discovered by Croydon Council food safety officers following a routine inspection at the company’s shop in Lower Addiscombe Road in June of last year.
Days later, on 1 July, a visit to the main bakery premises, in Tait Road, revealed evidence of a mouse infestation and dirty conditions in a number of areas.
On 3 August, Derek Carpenter, in charge of company operations, and his wife Emma Carpenter, representing the company, each admitted seven charges for offences on 26 June, and 1 and 2 July 2014.
At Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Monday (17), Carpenter and the company were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £8,595, with District Judge Andrew Sweet saying that he could not sufficiently stress the seriousness of the mouse infestation.
He added: “The photographs don’t make pleasant viewing, and you accept that you were the person ultimately in control of these premises.
“You were dealing with food, such as bread, that is not very usually wrapped. I’ve taken into account the steps you’ve taken to rectify.”
In addition to the food hygiene offences, the company – with branches in Addiscombe, South Croydon and Redhill – failed to register the main bakery as a premises that carries out food production, processing and distribution of food.
The court was told that, on 26 June 2014, during a routine food hygiene inspection, officers found examples of poor cleanliness, dirty food preparation areas, and no procedure in place to implement a food safety management system.
Five days later, at the main bakery, in Tait Road, the discovery of mouse droppings, filthy fridge door seals and generally dirty conditions led to a voluntary closure agreement being served, requiring that all the prepared food on the premises be thrown away or destroyed.
Two hygiene improvement notices were served on the company for failings relating to cleaning facilities and food safety management.
In addition to the evidence of mouse infestation, the inspecting officer noted dark green mould and algae on the inside of bread-making equipment; a build-up of dust and dirt on the floors, walls, and equipment; and surfaces covered in food debris, dirt and grime.
Standards were found to have improved when the premises were revisited on the following day. Pest-proofing had been carried out, and the bakery was given the all-clear to reopen.
“This is an established Croydon bakery, serving many members of the community, and it’s disappointing that standards were allowed to fall to such a degree.
“Our food safety team worked to put matters right and it’s heartening to note the comments of the district judge who realised the potential danger to customers and imposed a suitably severe financial penalty.”