The year began with pub giant JD Wetherspoon pulling sirloin, rump and gammon steaks from its menus in January after its then meat supplier, Russell Hume, was investigated by the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The supplier was visited by the FSA for an unannounced inspection of its Birmingham site on 12 January where it became concerned that the company was allegedly breaching hygiene regulations.
This led the body and Food Standards Scotland to investigate all Russell Hume site and other locations where its products are stored in England, Scotland and Wales.
The FSA has said that based on the evidence it gathered, it became concerned there was a more systemic and widespread problem, which was more serious in terms of its scale and nature.
It added that it was only at this stage issues of non-compliance were uncovered. These related to a number of issues including concerns about procedures and processes around use-by dates.
However, it stated there was no indication that people had become ill from eating meat supplied by Russell Hume.
Since the incident, Russell Hume has gone into administration and blamed the FSA, claiming its action was “out of proportion to concerns identified”.
The watchdog responded to the suppliers claims and said it took “proportionate action based on serious and widespread problems” found at the supplier’s premises involving stopping production at its sites and a voluntary withdrawal of affected products, which was initiated by the business.
Also in January, a Hampshire pub received the lowest food hygiene rating possible in January, and needed urgent improvement to the cleanliness and conditions of its facilities.
The Seagull in Portchester, which is part of Greene King’s Hungry Horse brand, was visited by inspectors from Fareham Borough Council on 4 January this year.
The pub’s hygienic food handling was deemed “generally satisfactory” however, the cleanliness and condition of the pub’s facilities and building, needed urgent improvement. The pub’s management of food safety also needed major improvement.
A spokesperson for the pub put the low rating down to building work at the site and said all of the pub’s staff had undergone refresher training.
Fareham Borough Council spokesperson confirmed there was an ongoing investigation and no further information was available at present.
Janette Garrard, licensee of the Punch Bowl pub in Lowther Street, York, was fined £100 and ordered to pay £817.58 in costs plus a £30 statutory surcharge at York Magistrates’ Court on 30 January 2018.
During an inspection of the pub, food hygiene officers found failings including dried food stuck to kitchen worktops and dirty food preparation equipment. They also found mould and limescale in the ice machine.
The bar’s mixer dispenser was gummed up with old syrup and the bar furniture and equipment was dirty.
The cellar had litter across the floor and staircase while the toilets for staff and customers were dirty, stained and smelled unpleasant.
As a result, the pub was awarded a zero rating under the food hygiene rating scheme, meaning urgent improvement was necessary.
At a repeat inspection on 19 May 2017, Garrard said she was continuing to provide food at darts matches. While some areas of the pub kitchen were cleaner, a number of poor standards remained.
Garrard, 60, who lives at the pub, pleaded guilty to three hygiene regulation
In mitigation, she said she didn’t cook for customers but bought in food for events. She added that staff had not left the kitchen clean and tidy while she was away on holiday so she had stopped them using it. She also said the works in the cellar had been disputed between her and the pub owners.
Proper hygiene practices
York City Council leader David Carr said: “The vast majority of food businesses in the city follow safe and proper hygiene practices.
“This pub has been given advice and opportunities to improve, which it needs to follow. Customers need to be confident of the food they buy and I am glad the court has recognised this.”
The Morning Advertiser attempted to contact the Punch Bowl but had not received a response at the time of publication.
Also in February a West Sussex pub’s food hygiene rating fell from five stars to one star due to the “cleanliness and condition of facilities and building”.
The Station Beefeater in Horsham was inspected on 8 January when officers from Horsham District Council found there were areas that needed improvement.
The pub’s hygienic handling of food were deemed as good, as was the system or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served was safe to eat.
This was also the case for evidence that staff knew about food safety and the food safety officer had confidence that standards would be maintained in the future.
However, there was major improvement necessary for the cleanliness and condition of facilities and building to enable good food hygiene.
A spokesperson for the pub said it took the decision to close the site with immediate effect to allow the necessary improvements to be carried out.
It added: “We are pleased to note the EHO has since visited the re-opened site and confirmed they were happy with the progress made. We will reapply for a follow-up visit once the standstill period has lapsed.”
The licensee of the New Inn, High Street, in Deal, was ordered to pay £7,757 for serious breaches of food safety legislation, after a prosecution for Dover District Council was heard at Canterbury Magistrates’ Court on 6 February.
The prosecution followed an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in September 2016 and poor food hygiene practices being identified at subsequent inspections at the pub.
At least 10 people became ill after eating food from the pub in September 2016. Inspections to investigate the outbreak revealed problems with unfit and out-of-date food, food not being stored at a safe temperature, poor controls against cross-contamination, and the premises and equipment not being kept clean.
As a result of the conditions found, the pub was subject to a voluntary closure, where it did not trade as a food business for three days while improvements were made to the hygiene standards.
At the court hearing, licensee of the pub Deborah Doyle, 46, pleaded guilty to nine food-hygiene offences.
Magistrates noted that serious harm had been done to a number of people and Doyle was fined £3,500 for hygiene offences, with a £170 victim surcharge and costs of £4,087.
A spokesman for the New Inn said: “The pub is open now and still serving food. There are lots of people in and it is not a problem.
“On that day in 2016, there was a braderie (yearly street fair and street market), which is a very, very busy day. The pub had about 120 covers that day and, out of those, unfortunately, some people became ill.“