Café owner could face food business ban for breaching regulations

Richard Bird pictured outside the Street Level Café in 2016 Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Richard Bird pictured outside the Street Level Café in 2016 Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Phil Morley

A Suffolk café owner could be banned from running a food business for breaching hygiene and safety regulations.

Richard Bird was this week due to be sentenced by magistrates for breaking 17 food safety and hygiene, and four health and safety at work regulations.

But the hearing was adjourned when council prosecutors applied for a prohibition order to ban him from managing a food business.

In November, the 72-year-old admitted failures uncovered at the Street Level Café, Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, where inspectors found food at risk of cross-contamination, greasy surfaces, general refuse in a food store and an open bag of compost in the kitchen last July.

Baited traps were found in a store room at risk of ‘pest entry’ and containing an open drain, flies were found in the food room, and holes were found in the kitchen ceiling, while other infringements included mould on a chopping board, unwashed knives, mouldy fridge shelves, soiled newspaper in a salad drawer, bins kept with food in a store room, food potentially contaminated with glass from a broken freezer lid, and water treatment solution in a fridge.

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Sausages were kept four days past the use-by date and milk was three days past its use-by date.

There was a lack of hygiene training or risk assessment, and an electrician’s report on an upstairs area – not accessible to the public – made 51 observations, including three risks of injury.

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Nigel Dulieu, prosecuting for the borough council, described conditions as “fairly chronic”.

Rachel Spearing, mitigating, said methods had been in place to monitor cleaning and hygiene but had not been properly recorded.

July had been a busy period, she added, and the build-up of grease was due to heavy trade at a time when Bird’s ill-health, between summer and autumn, provided further explanation for a lack of robust oversight.

She said holes had been filled, deep cleaning carried out, and training given to employees by an enthusiastic new member of staff.

“This is a man who was overwhelmed; not indifferent. It’s not an offence that reflects ongoing or blatant disregard,” added Ms Spearing, who said Bird had not been provided sight of the reasoning behind the ancillary food hygiene prohibition order.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until March 12 for the order to be considered.

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