Pubco hotel fined whopping £170k for pest infestation

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Painful lesson: Shepherd Neame has since replaced the management team
Painful lesson: Shepherd Neame has since replaced the management team

Related tags: Food hygiene, Public house, Hotel

Shepherd Neame has been ordered to pay almost £170,000 in fines and court fees after one of its hotels was found to be in violation of four hygiene safety standards.

The Royal Wells Hotel, Tunbridge Wells, was investigated by the local council in June 2016 after a complaint was received about rats in the kitchen.

Inspectors found that its failure in hygiene standards were ‘so serious’ that the council had no choice but to take legal action.

During a number of visits to the Kent site, environmental officers identified a widespread rat infestation and other failings that posed a risk to food safety.

Kitchen closed

The investigation revealed that the hotel had failed to implement pest proofing advice given by a contracted pest control agency, and failed to comply with its food safety management system.

The council recommended that the premises should be closed with immediate effect. Shepherd Neame voluntarily closed the kitchen for four days and has since replaced the management team at the hotel.

The pubco issued a statement in which it said it “wholly” accepted the ruling.

“This incident should not have happened and we have done everything within our power to ensure it will not happen again,” it said.

“We voluntarily and immediately closed the kitchen and, since the incident in June 2016, have carried out all necessary remedial work to the site. We have undertaken a thorough review of our systems and processes and the hotel also has a new management team.

A 'painful' incident

“We have a hitherto unblemished hygiene record upon which we pride ourselves and which makes this incident all the more painful as a consequence. 

“However, the Royal Wells has subsequently been rated satisfactory and we remain committed to working with the council to deliver the highest standards of customer experience.”

Shepherd Neame appeared in court on 25 July, where it pleaded guilty to four charges of food hygiene offences. It was fined £160,000 and had costs of £9,988 awarded against it.

Last week, an Essex pub was fined £42,000 after rats were found nesting under the fridge in its kitchen.​ 

In response, food hygiene experts Anderson Food Hygiene told The Morning Advertiser​ that preventing rubbish build ups and filing up gaps in walls were two ways pubs could avoid rat infestations.

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