South Staffordshire Council food safety officers visited the Cat Inn, Enville, on 7 February 2017 to carry out a routine food inspection.
The officers discovered numerous failings and unacceptable conditions including poor cleaning standards to the structure and equipment, poor stock control and food handling practices, a lack of food hygiene knowledge and risk of contamination.
As a result of these conditions, the pub scored a zero food-hygiene rating, suggesting urgent improvement was necessary.
The council said an officer had found similar issues at the business at a previous inspection in February 2016 when the pub had scored a one-star food hygiene rating and was given advice and guidance to improve the standards.
The cases were heard at Cannock Magistrates’ Court on 12 September 2018 and both defendants, the Cat Inn (food business operator) and the Hicksters (management team for the pub), pleaded guilty.
The Cat Inn was issued with a formal caution with prosecution costs of £11,300. Hicksters was fined £4,000 with prosecution costs of £2,000 and court costs of £175.
After the Cat Inn was issued with the zero-star food hygiene rating in February 2017, the council’s environmental health team served food hygiene improvement notices on the Cat Inn to improve conditions.
It was also again offered additional guidance and assistance, and following further work, the pub had this time improved substantially, according to the council.
After being re-inspected, it was awarded a five-star food hygiene rating after an unannounced visit by inspectors in September 2017.
The council deputy leader and cabinet member for regulatory services Roger Lees said: “As a result of this successful prosecution, this business has improved immeasurably and is now following all the guidelines and standards on food safety.
“All food business operators need to ensure safe food is produced and sold to customers, and the council’s environmental health team is authorised to take action where it find non-compliance and especially repeated failures.
“The team can offer guidance and works with hundreds of businesses across south Staffordshire to check food businesses in the district comply with food hygiene legislation."
He added: “While the majority of businesses do comply, we will not hesitate to take formal action through the courts when we consider it necessary.”
The Food Standards Agency website also notes the pub has a five-star food hygiene rating (as of 12 September 2017).
The Morning Advertiser contacted the pub for a response but had not received it at the time of publication.
However, the pub posted on its Facebook page this week (12 November): “To all who have seen today’s news, we hope we have not lost your trust or support.
“We hope you can understand these reports are from a period of time of fluctuating kitchen staff levels and these problems were addressed immediately and with the utmost concern.
“Since the incident, we can assure you we have attained a five-star [food hygiene] rating and we work hard every day to maintain the highest standards.”