Licensee turns pub around after £30k fine for rat droppings and food hygiene offences

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

The Grapes Inn (Photo: Google Street View)
The Grapes Inn (Photo: Google Street View)

Related tags Food hygiene Food hygiene offences Food Public house

A Teesside licensee who was slapped with a £30,000 fine after environmental health officers found rat droppings in his pub’s storeroom among numerous food hygiene offences last year has spoken of how he has turned the business around. 

The Grapes Inn, Scaling Dam, was on Wednesday (30 March) ordered to pay a fine of £30,894 by Teesside Magistrates’ Court for 11 food safety and hygiene offences, including failure to put adequate pest control procedures in place, failure to keep premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition, and failure to provide food hygiene training.

According to Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council officers found rat droppings in the pub’s food storage shed, in and around food and food packaging and behind freezers during an investigation in March 2015, after which Mark Miles, manager of the Grapes Inn, closed the pub in a voluntary agreement, reopening a week later with the blessing of the council.

All clear

Since the offences were committed, Miles worked hard to turn the pub around and has been given the all clear by local authorities on several different occasions.

He said: “It's taken a year to bring it to court but over the past year we've had six food hygiene inspections – the last of which was on Tuesday evening, and at each of those we've been given a clean bill of health.

“We’ve taken all the steps that we needed to to reopen. We spent a week training staff and putting new procedures in place, we’ve got a computerised stock control system – there are so many things we’ve done to ensure that this absolutely doesn’t happen again.”

The chef responsible for the kitchen at the time of the incident had left the pub and Miles himself had taken control of the kitchen to ensure a high standard, he added.

Cllr Lynn Pallister, council cabinet member for health and housing, said: “This case underlines how seriously we take any contraventions of food hygiene laws.”

“The health of the public is always of paramount importance and any establishments operating their business in filthy conditions with such structural disrepair, pest infestations and a total lack of understanding of food hygiene matters will be dealt with effectively.”


Recent data gathered by local authorities reported that pubs as a whole had increased their hygiene ratings by an average of 1% to 96% from April 2014 to March 2015, compared with the same period the previous year.

Steve Osborn, principal consultant for food and beverage at the Aurora Ceres Partnership, told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ that it had been the increase in eating out in previous decades that had been responsible for the improvement in standards.

He said: “Pubs have become family-centred dining experiences, rather than watering holes and with that comes a different and higher expectation from consumers.”

The pub sector has also begun to face competition from other foodservice sectors adopting stronger, ‘corporate’ attitudes to food safety, he added.

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