Mouldy scone leads to bakery firm being fined £9k for hygiene breaches

McCarthy's Country Store Ltd was prosecuted by Mid Suffolk District Council over food hygiene offences

McCarthy's Country Store Ltd was prosecuted by Mid Suffolk District Council over food hygiene offences - Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council

A complaint about a mouldy cheese scone on a market stall in Stowmarket led to a bakery firm being fined nearly £10,000 for food hygiene offences.

Mid Suffolk District Council officers visited the stall run by McCarthy's Country Stores Ltd, which is based in Brentwood in Essex, following the complaint by the member of the public.

On inspection they found inadequate hand washing facilities, pest control and temperature control issues and inadequate allergen management.

The firm was later found guilty of breaching six food hygiene laws, with director Peter McCarthy ordered to pay a total £9,723.46 for the offences dating back to August 8 2019.

The money included £1,599.46 costs to the council and a victim surcharge of £190.

Mr McCarthy that whilst the firm did everything 3,600 market stalls per year to comply with the rules, "we were deemed to be lacking in some areas" on the instances in question.

"Nobody is perfect," he said.

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"We pride ourselves on the products we provide and in the way in which these are displayed and sold.

"This, in my opinion, is in no small part as to why we receive a considerable amount of repeat and returning customers.

"We provide all our staff with the necessary training and resources to be able to carry out their duties in a a safe manner and indeed take pride in the way that they conduct themselves with all of their customers.

"We will of course take note of and review some of our working practices in the hope that this was and is an isolated case."

Mid Suffolk District Council took McCarthy’s Country Store Ltd to court over food hygiene offences

Mid Suffolk District Council took McCarthy’s Country Store Ltd to court over food hygiene offences - Credit: Mid Suffolk District Council

Following the sentencing hearing at Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich on Wednesday, March 3, Jessica Fleming - cabinet member for environment and Mid Suffolk District Council - said: “Our officers work hard to keep the public safe when purchasing food or eating out – so this is a great result.

"We take a graduated enforcement approach, share intelligence with authorities across the country, and support our food businesses with advice and guidance, with prosecution being the last resort.

“This conviction shows the importance of food hygiene and sends a clear message that repeated breaches will not be tolerated.

"This vital work ensures our communities are protected and can make informed decisions when choosing to purchase food or eat out in our district.”​

The firm was fined £934 for failing to maintain high risk foods at or below 8C and £1,400 for placing unfit food on the market.

It was also fined £1,400 for failing to ensure food handlers were supervised and instructed and/or trained, another £1,400 for failing to provide adequate hand washing facilities and £1,400 for failing to protect food from contamination.

Another £1,400 fine was made for failure to implement a food safety management system.

McCarthy’s Country Store Ltd was also successfully prosecuted by Babergh District Council in September 2015 in relation to the sale of a mouldy bread pudding at Sudbury Market.

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