A Suffolk food business operator has been warned he could face jail if he fails to cooperate with environmental health officers.

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Two Suffolk Coastal officers had visited the farm in August 2012 to assess compliance with Hygiene Improvement Notices, which had previously been served following evidence of faecal contamination in samples of cream sold via a third party.

Keith Jefferson Smith, of Grove Farm, Hollesley, near Woodbridge, was found guilty at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court yesterday of intentionally obstructing an environmental health officer at his on-farm dairy.

Councillor Mary Neale, Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for community health, said “This is a very serious offence.

“Environmental health officers provide an essential service in ensuring the food we eat is safe.

“They visit around 500 food businesses across our district each year and must be able to be able to carry out their function without hindrance, otherwise people’s health could be put at risk.”

Jefferson Smith had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to provide information to environmental health officers in relation to controls that he should have had in place to ensure the safety of any food that he produced.

Deputy District Judge Samantha Leigh imposed a conditional discharge for the maximum period of 24 months, with an expectation that Jefferson Smith would cooperate with the regulatory authorities in the future and told him, if he was found to be obstructive again, he risked a custodial sentence.

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