A North London bakery has been fined £152,823 after it was found to be using a tennis racket to mash potatoes.
The directors of Sweet Mahal and Doce Bakers, which both prepared food at the premises, appeared before Highbury Magistrates Court last week to answer charges, after an EHO inspection discovered the potato-covered racket in a bowl of boiled potatoes.
The charge was part of a string of hygiene failings uncovered by Enfield Council, which brought the prosecution.
Enfield Council found the Edmonton premises that were used to manufacture desserts, sweets, bakery goods and samosas to have fallen far short of acceptable standards.
An ongoing pest infestation problem was discovered, which posed a real risk of food poisoning and illness to the public.
As well as stumbling across the tennis racket that was used to mash potatoes, floors and equipment were found to be filthy.
Fiona Sinclair, director of food safety consultancy STS, said it “beggared belief” that any food business operator could think that using a piece of sports equipment as a food prep device was an acceptable practice.
“The question is, if the bakery finds it acceptable to use a tennis racket as a potato masher and can’t muster the decency to buy a simple piece of everyday, inexpensive kit, what on earth else is going on behind closed doors?
“As consumers we put our trust in food producers to make sure that the food we eat is handled hygienically, and produced in a clean environment. The public can’t see what goes on behind closed doors and, as such, it’s examples like this that show the importance of the role that an EHO plays in protecting public health.”
“Not only was this business cutting corners and failing to comply with even the most basic of hygiene laws, but they were operating under conditions that surely morally indicate blatant disrespect for the trusting, paying consumer.
Sinclar said the case illustrates the value of unannounced visits from enforcement officers, and the importance of an EHO’s legal power of entry to gain access to inspect food businesses at any reasonable time.
“It is also good to see the courts issue a hefty fine – due punishment for such a laissez-faire attitude towards public safety,” she added.
IMAGE CREDIT: Enfield Council