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Bakery fined £20,000 after mouse droppings and filthy conditions found

By John Scott | Smethwick | News | Published:

A bakery producing Caribbean bread products for thousands of supermarket customers has paid the £30,000 price for a string of food safety failings.

Sunrise Bakery in Smethwick. Picture: Google

Environmental health officers repeatedly warned Sunrise Bakery in Woodlands Street, Smethwick, of the risk to public health posed by mouse droppings and filthy working conditions, a judge heard.

But its boss Copeland Drummond, whose father started the business in the 1960s, did not appreciate the seriousness of the situation and allowed it to fester for months, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

Droppings were discovered on the floor near ovens as well as where ingredients were stored and bread was cooled, revealed Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council.

A shopping trolley which caught loaves from a slicing machine was rusty and dirty while bread was stored on empty flour sacks that had been lying on the floor where the mouse excrement was found, continued the prosecutor.

The “negligent” attitude of Drummond – the sole director of the bakery’s controlling company William Herman Ltd – was blamed for the problems.

Council officers found numerous breaches of food hygiene regulations during three October 2017 inspections of the plant which has contracts with outlets including supermarket giants Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco together with a retail shop on the premises, it was said.

'Serious risk'

Court action followed a further visit in February 2018 which disclosed little had been done to address the serious risk of food becoming contaminated.

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Both Drummond and William Herman Ltd each admitted 22 offences involving a catalogue of food safety and hygiene failings.

Mr Jackson said: “This was not an isolated incident. He was fully aware of his responsibilities but, over and over again, the environmental advice given to him was ignored. I am not suggesting that has always been the case.”

Mr Christopher Hopkins, defending, stressed mouse droppings were found on the floor rather than work surfaces and there was no complaint of a customer falling ill.

But he conceded: “The shortcomings existed for some time and there was an element of wilful blindness.”

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Recorder Nicholas Bacon QC said: “These offences are very serious and could have caused real health difficulties to the public since it supplied thousands of customers.

"The defendant had a lack of appreciation of the importance of these regulations and failed to appreciate the significance of what he was not doing.”

He fined the company £20,000 and ordered it to pay £10,000 costs while Drummond, 64, from Girton Road, Cannock, was given a 12-month community order with 100 hours unpaid work.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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