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Food hygiene breaches and ‘dangerous’ electrics exposed at Suffolk café

Richard Bird outside the Street Level Café in 2015  Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Richard Bird outside the Street Level Café in 2015 Picture: PHIL MORLEY

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A Suffolk café owner has admitted breaching a string of hygiene and safety regulations.

Richard Bird preparing ice cream at the Richard Bird outside the Street Level Café in 2015  Picture: PHIL MORLEYRichard Bird preparing ice cream at the Richard Bird outside the Street Level Café in 2015 Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Richard Bird, 71, pleaded guilty to breaking 17 food regulations and four health and safety rules before magistrates this week.

A July inspection of the Street Level Café, in Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, found stored food at risk of contamination, ‘unknown liquid’ in a bucket, greasy surfaces, general refuse in a food store and an open bag of compost in the kitchen.

Baited ‘back-breaker’ rodent traps were found in a store room, which was at risk of ‘pest entry’ and contained an open drain. There was a dirty carpet and no water supply to an upstairs kitchen, flies were found in the food room, and holes were found in the kitchen ceiling risking dirt, mould, and particles being shed onto food preparation areas.

The kitchen was fitted with domestic units; grills contained grease; a drill was stored next to a dusty ice cream dispenser; mould was found on a chopping board; knives were unwashed; fridge shelves were mouldy; soiled newspaper was found in a salad drawer; a chest freezer was missing its lid and covered with curtains; bins were kept with food in the rear store room; food was potentially contaminated with glass from a broken freezer lid; smoked salmon and ice cream risked cross contamination; and water treatment solution was stored in a food fridge. Meanwhile, sausages were kept four days past their use-by date and milk was three days past its use-by date.

There was a lack of hygiene training or risk assessment, and the electrical system was old, badly maintained and ‘dangerous’.

Simon Smith, prosecuting for the borough council, said: “While there was no immediate danger to anyone, the electrics were found to be highly substandard.”

He said evidential photos may “provoke revulsion” but that Mr Bird was simply “not very good” at taking care of his premises.

“One hopes he will be able to do something about it and improve, because, at the moment, it really isn’t up to scratch” he added.

Rachel Spearing, mitigating, said the safety charges concerned dilapidation that crossed the threshold of statutory regulation but were not life-threatening.

“Remedial works have already been committed,” she said, asking magistrates to delay sentencing for a full report to be prepared on the mitigating circumstances surrounding the breaches.

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