Council closes pub's kitchens

By James HoreA PUB has been forced to close its kitchens after an investigation revealed the food conditions were causing an “imminent risk” to the public.

By James Hore

A PUB has been forced to close its kitchens after an investigation revealed the food conditions were causing an “imminent risk” to the public.

But the owners of the White Hart in St Osyth claimed they had been unfairly treated and had not been given a fair chance to make representations in court.

The pub has been banned from using kitchen and refrigeration equipment until it complied with food hygiene regulations after a district judge put an emergency prohibition order on the premises.

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It followed an investigation by Tendring District Council environmental health officers, who found a number of alleged breaches of food hygiene standards at the Mill Street pub.

The investigation allegedly found there was food on the premises that had passed its sell by date by more than a month and the general condition in the kitchen was “appalling” with lots of uncovered produce.

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Notice was served on the pub on June 18 making it an offence to use the kitchen or refrigeration equipment and District Judge David Cooper granted the prohibition order at Colchester Magistrates' Court on Thursday.

The pub is also being prosecuted on charges relating to food hygiene standards.

Allan Johnson, environmental health officer for the council, said the emergency prohibition order was only the second of its type issued in the past two years.

“This action can only be used when there is an imminent risk to public health. It is not a power we use lightly,” he added.

Mr Johnson said there had been three inspections at the pub in the past six months when unfit food had allegedly been found and conditions had failed to significantly improve during that time.

Mike Hughes, managing director of Lion Leisure, which runs the White Hart, claimed it had been unfairly treated and said the pub was being sold as he was “sick to death of the aggravation”.

He added: “The place is not finished yet and that is why we asked for more time and asked for the case to be adjourned - we were only given 24 hours' notice and were not able to be there in court.

“We run another nine kitchens and none of them have ever had a problem like this before. That kitchen has been there in the same guise as it was for 12 years and we have made improvements in the year we have been there.”

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