The owners of an Essex have been fined over £43,000 after officers found rodents nesting beneath the fridge in a grimy kitchen where there was dirt accumulating on the chopping boards. Kitchen conditions at the Red Lion Chelmsford, were described by one inspector as “one of the worst that I have seen in my 30-year career.”
Serious food hygiene and safety contraventions first came to light following a routine food hygiene inspection in October 2016, when officers from Chelmsford City Council discovered serious hygiene breaches including dirty floors, walls, chopping boards, pipework and around the wash basin, where no soap was available.
Evidence of vermin infestation included holes which had been gnawed underneath doors and rats were nesting beneath the fridge freezer. Fresh rodent droppings were seen on the premises.
The pub’s kitchen remained voluntarily closed until the case was brought to Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on July 20.
Magistrates heard that attempts had been made to clean the kitchen and remove pests, however, these attempts to do not satisfy council officials.
The court agreed to extend the closure by issuing a prohibition order preventing the Red Lion from being used as a food business with immediate effect.
The Red Lion company was issued with a £32,000 fine, plus a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £509.
One of the company directors, Ian Collins, 53, of Inchbonnie Way, South Woodham Ferrers, was personally fined £10,000, plus a victim surcharge of £170 and costs of £509, and was also issued with a Hygiene Prohibition Order preventing him from participating in the management of the Red Lion or any other food business indefinitely.
Councillor Susan Sullivan, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said, “I am very pleased to see the conclusion of this case. The unusually high fine and prohibitions placed upon the defendant represent the severity of the appalling conditions found at these premises, which could seriously endanger the health of customers.”