A FORMER pub landlord has been slapped with a hefty fine after environmental health officials discovered filthy conditions in his kitchen area.
Adrian Meggs, who ran The Schooner in Warrior Drive, Seaton Carew, until March this year, appeared before Hartlepool magistrates and admitted five food hygiene offences under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006.
Meggs, 44, of Bilsdale Road, Seaton Carew, was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,086.98 and a £15 victim surcharge.
Action was taken after environmental health officers from Hartlepool Council routinely inspected the premises in March 2012 and discovered filthy conditions in the food areas.
Inadequate cleaning and structural maintenance issues had previously been raised with Meggs on several occasions but he had failed to make improvements.
Photographs of The Schooner’s kitchen submitted to the court showed blood staining on the refrigerator door, dirty, stagnant water underneath a work surface and walls, floors and equipment that had not been cleaned.
Meggs admitted failing to put in place and implement an effective food safety management system, failing to keep the food premises clean and in good repair and condition, failing to provide materials for cleaning and drying hands at the wash hand basins, failing to keep articles, fittings and equipment with which food came into contact clean and disinfected and failing to protect food against contamination.
Council chiefs have now warned other establishments serving food to ensure the safety of customers at all times or face the prospect of legal action.
Damien Wilson, the council’s assistant director for regeneration and planning, said: “This case is a reminder to all food businesses that we will accept nothing less than full compliance with the standards required by law and residents can be assured of continuing high standards of food hygiene in the town.”
Almost two-thirds of the borough’s registered food premises currently have a top “five” rating in the new National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme national scheme and a further quarter hold a “four” rating.
Public protection manager Sylvia Pinkney added: “We try to work with businesses but if they do not take appropriate steps to protect the safety of customers and ignore advice we will take action through the courts.
“Free advice and resources such as documented food safety management systems are available, and our officers are happy to work with businesses to help them comply with the law.
“However, this requires co-operation on both sides and, unfortunately, in this case it did not happen.
“Mr Meggs failed to act on previous advice and written warnings given to him.”
The Schooner now has a new landlord and an unannounced inspection recently found that the standard of cleanliness had improved significantly.
The premises now have a hygiene rating of “four” in the national scheme.