Store owner fined for severe food safety breaches

The owner of a food store has been fined more than £7,500 after pleading guilty to nine food safety breaches.

Mr Shafeq Nasser Al-Suraimi, who runs Green Mountain Food Store on Lodge Lane which operates as a shop and Halal butchers, was fined a total of £3,600, made to pay £4,017.34 in costs to the council and a £40 victim surcharge.

The Magistrates Court was told that on 4 November 2015, Environmental Health Officers from Liverpool City Council carried out an unannounced routine inspection and found:

  • Mouse droppings in the meat display fridge, in the butchery department, on a counter, on shelves, in-between the floor and the skirting boards and in a walk-in fridge. Large holes in the fridge were found, which were thought to be access points for pests
  • Equipment used to butcher meat was dirty
  • Blood was found on the door handle of the walk-in fridge
  • Floor and wall coverings were in a poor structural condition
  • Rodent smear marks were observed on skirting boards
  • Evidence throughout the shop and the butchers which indicated a lack of any effective cleaning

The findings resulted in the immediate closure of the premises, with the agreement and co-operation of the manager, due to the imminent risks to public health.

Nine days later (12 November), officers returned to the premises for a follow-up inspection and found them in the same poor condition, no cleaning had been undertaken and pest infestation remained obvious. There was also evidence that despite the closure, meat was still being prepared in the butchers. Green Mountain Food Store was formally closed on the 19 November 2015.

The investigation found a report from a pest control company dating back just one month earlier (October 2015), advising the owner of an urgent need for a deep-clean of the premises, pest proofing, stock control and daily checks for pest sightings. During that company’s visit to the food store they had caught six mice on glue pads and 15 bait boxes had been eaten. On a previous visit the company had found a rat along with a number of mice in the cellar.

Following the second closure a full refurbishment took place and the environmental health team revisited the location again on 12 April 2016 where officers were satisfied there was no longer a risk to the public.

Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “This is a shocking example of a severe breach of food safety standards which could have resulted in customers being very ill.

“We will not tolerate food businesses operating in this manner and the seriousness of this charge is reflected in the considerable fine levelled at the owner.

“Our environmental health team do incredible work across the city so that residents and visitors can, rightly so, expect the highest possible standards when they visit any food outlet.”