Maggoty meat butcher to pay £54,000

A Gloucestershire butcher was told to pay £54,000 for food hygiene offences, and unauthorised sales

A meat firm has been ordered to pay £54,000 in fines and costs for seven food hygiene offences, after a bag of putrefying meat filled with maggots was found behind a freezer.

Hygiene offences included allowing lamb carcasses to touch each other, as well as cardboard boxes, in the cold store, and a dirty sausage making machine handle. The Gloucestershire butcher was sentenced on Monday (March 13).

Gloucester Crown Court also heard that the butcher’s shop – The Country Butcher – had a number of areas that were unacceptably dirty (see images below). These included the floor of the retail area, the cutting room, the yard adjacent to the toilet, the internal surface of a vacuum packaging machine and the mastic behind the hand wash basin.

Passing sentence on the butcher, recorder Adam Vaitilingam said: “It seems to me that no members of the public who saw the conditions at your premises would ever have knowingly eaten food coming from that shop.

‘Cutting corners for financial gain’

“You were cutting corners, you were flouting the rules, and you were doing it for financial gain.”

David Tomlins, 66, was also charged for selling meat and meat products to pubs and restaurants in London without Food Standards Agency (FSA) approval. A Forest of Dean council investigation revealed hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of unauthorised sales.

Tomlins was fined £24,000 in total, and was told to pay £30,000 in costs.

The judge said the hygiene conditions at the butcher were “truly shocking”, but said the secret sales was a more serious offence. He said Tomlins “deliberately withheld” sales information because he knew he’d never get FSA approval.

The Country Butcher – at a glance
  • £54,000 in costs
  • Seven food hygiene failings, including putrefying meat waste bag
  • Two offences of selling unauthorised meat

The judge said: “You could not afford to lose the custom you were getting. You took the risk and that risk has come home to roost in these court proceedings.”

‘Come home to roost’

Tomlins pleaded guilty to seven food hygiene failings in November last year, at Cheltenham Magistrates Court. He also pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a hygiene inspectors’ improvement notice, and two offences of unauthorised meat sales.

Councillor and environment cabinet member Marrilyn Smart said: “We have a responsibility to ensure that all food premises and businesses in the district comply with food hygiene regulations.

“When low standards of hygiene are identified, such failings are treated seriously, acted upon and if improvements are not made by the food business operators then we have a duty to take legal steps to protect the health of the public.”

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