A Wellingborough food shop was closed for a week after the council’s environmental health team discovered conditions so unhygienic they believed there would be a risk to the health of any customers that bought food there.
Smakus, which is on Cambridge Street and describes itself as selling vegetables, juices, meat, bread, fresh dairy and European food, was closed on 1 November following a visit from the council. Health protection officers found poor conditions including inadequate hot water for staff to wash their hands and extremely dirty food equipment. They also found food being stored at temperatures as high as 15°C, and an old rat infestation and rat droppings were seen in the food store room. In addition, around 40 food products were seized from the premises because they were found to be either significantly past their use-by date or unfit due to mould growth.
The council's senior environmental health officer was so concerned about the state of the shop that he served a Hygiene Prohibition Notice requiring the premises to close immediately. The shop remained closed until 8 November, at which time officers returned and found that conditions had improved enough that there was no longer a risk to health.
The company directors of Smakus Ltd appeared at Wellingborough Magistrates Court on 8 November, and the court confirmed that there had been an imminent risk to public health and ordered the disposal of all food seized. The company was also ordered to pay the council's costs, of over £1,000.
Amanda Wilcox, Wellingborough Council's Health Protection Manager, said: "We work informally with businesses where possible to make sure high standards are maintained, but when considerable failings are found that significantly risk public health, we won't hesitate to take enforcement action. The conditions found at this shop were particularly serious and we hope it will warn all food businesses that they must comply with the regulations. The public's safety is our chief concern and we will do whatever is necessary to protect that."