Gateshead shop fined for poor hygiene and health and safety breaches

Karwan Aziz Adam's Continental Foods

(Image of Adam's Continental Food Store's food preparation area taken by environmental health officers)

A Gateshead grocery store owner has been fined £9,701 by magistrates after failing to meet food hygiene and health and safety standards.

Environmental health officers visited Adam's Continental Food Store on Coatsworth Road on 22 May 2018 as a follow up to routine food testing. 

During the visit the conditions of general cleanliness around the floors, walls and ceiling and equipment were found to be in a poor condition throughout the butchery department. 

A piece of wood recycled from a packing crate was found to be used as a utensil to push raw meat through to the mincing head. 

An LPG gas installation was prohibited by environmental health officers as a 47kg bottle was found with a rubber pipe pushed through a wall and pinched by a chest freezer. On a subsequent visit, officers went on to ban the use of an unguarded butchery bandsaw.   

In the environmental health officer's opinion, the conditions were significantly below the standard expected in relation to food safety as well as their duties as an employer under health and safety requirements and formal action was required to prevent imminent risk. 

During the Council's investigation a video came to light of an employee chopping meat in a lane behind the store. The matter was also investigated with environmental enforcement officers from a waste perspective. The 'meat' which was observed in the video was in fact chicken carcasses and the member of staff was making them smaller so they could fit more into a bin. 

Environmental health officers were satisfied at the time that the meat was not intended for the food chain and the environmental enforcement team were satisfied that sufficient waste disposal arrangements were in place. However, a hygiene improvement notice relating to staff training was issued. That notice was not complied with by the scheduled date in the first instance, and one of the offences brought before the court. It has since been complied with and widespread training has taken place.

On 13 March 2019,ownerKarwan Hama Aziz pleaded guilty to charges of failing to keep the premises clean and use of equipment not able to be cleaned or maintained. 

He also pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences concerning gas safety and use of a bandsaw without the proper guarding in place and two counts of failing to comply with hygiene improvement notices (one for training and one for a food safety management system), both eventually complied with after the deadlines.

After an early guilty plea from Mr Aziz the court discounted the fine to £9,701 which includes costs of £1,239 and a victim surcharge of £170. 

Anneliese Hutchinson, Service Director, Development Transport and Public Protection said:

"Gateshead Council places the highest importance on ensuring that the food served in the borough's food businesses is safe and hygienically prepared.

"There is no excuse for taking shortcuts when it comes to food hygiene.

"We also take employee safety very seriously and Mr Aziz's staff should not have been exposed to unnecessary risk of serious injury from using machines without guards and gas equipment that is not correctly installed.

"This prosecution should serve as a reminder to Gateshead's employers of their responsibilities to their staff and the public and that the Council will not hesitate to prosecute breaches of food hygiene and safety."

Karwan Aziz Adam's Continental Foods
14 March 2019

(Image of Adam's Continental Food Store's food preparation area taken by environmental health officers)

A Gateshead grocery store owner has been fined £9,701 by magistrates after failing to meet food hygiene and health and safety standards.

Environmental health officers visited Adam's Continental Food Store on Coatsworth Road on 22 May 2018 as a follow up to routine food testing. 

During the visit the conditions of general cleanliness around the floors, walls and ceiling and equipment were found to be in a poor condition throughout the butchery department. 

A piece of wood recycled from a packing crate was found to be used as a utensil to push raw meat through to the mincing head. 

An LPG gas installation was prohibited by environmental health officers as a 47kg bottle was found with a rubber pipe pushed through a wall and pinched by a chest freezer. On a subsequent visit, officers went on to ban the use of an unguarded butchery bandsaw.   

In the environmental health officer's opinion, the conditions were significantly below the standard expected in relation to food safety as well as their duties as an employer under health and safety requirements and formal action was required to prevent imminent risk. 

During the Council's investigation a video came to light of an employee chopping meat in a lane behind the store. The matter was also investigated with environmental enforcement officers from a waste perspective. The 'meat' which was observed in the video was in fact chicken carcasses and the member of staff was making them smaller so they could fit more into a bin. 

Environmental health officers were satisfied at the time that the meat was not intended for the food chain and the environmental enforcement team were satisfied that sufficient waste disposal arrangements were in place. However, a hygiene improvement notice relating to staff training was issued. That notice was not complied with by the scheduled date in the first instance, and one of the offences brought before the court. It has since been complied with and widespread training has taken place.

On 13 March 2019,ownerKarwan Hama Aziz pleaded guilty to charges of failing to keep the premises clean and use of equipment not able to be cleaned or maintained. 

He also pleaded guilty to two health and safety offences concerning gas safety and use of a bandsaw without the proper guarding in place and two counts of failing to comply with hygiene improvement notices (one for training and one for a food safety management system), both eventually complied with after the deadlines.

After an early guilty plea from Mr Aziz the court discounted the fine to £9,701 which includes costs of £1,239 and a victim surcharge of £170. 

Anneliese Hutchinson, Service Director, Development Transport and Public Protection said:

"Gateshead Council places the highest importance on ensuring that the food served in the borough's food businesses is safe and hygienically prepared.

"There is no excuse for taking shortcuts when it comes to food hygiene.

"We also take employee safety very seriously and Mr Aziz's staff should not have been exposed to unnecessary risk of serious injury from using machines without guards and gas equipment that is not correctly installed.

"This prosecution should serve as a reminder to Gateshead's employers of their responsibilities to their staff and the public and that the Council will not hesitate to prosecute breaches of food hygiene and safety."

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