"clear and obvious evidence of mouse droppings on the floor"
The director of a Wolverhampton food firm has been fined after failing to comply with food hygiene regulations.
Mandeep Singh, aged 37, pleaded guilty to failing to protect food against contamination likely to render it unfit for human consumption and an offence of failing to comply with EU provisions concerning food safety and hygiene.
This relates to Chatha Fresh Food Limited, based at Atlas Trading Estate, Bilston.
The business is a national supplier of ready-to-eat foods.
During a premises inspection on April 28, 2022, environmental health officers found an active mouse infestation.
Singh blamed the infestation on damage caused to the building during a previous burglary at the site.
Jane Sarginson, prosecuting on behalf of Wolverhampton City Council, said:
“The inspection found clear and obvious evidence of mouse droppings on the floor and around the room.”
Mouse droppings were seen on “sealed” packaging for cakes which could have contaminated the contents once opened.
An emergency prohibition notice was issued and further checks were carried out.
Miss Sarginson said Singh filled up a hole in the brickwork, but further “less pronounced” droppings were found in a second chiller room and on a mezzanine floor.
She added that droppings found on the mezzanine during a check carried out in March 2023 had been cleared up.
In mitigation, Stephen Jackson said: “The business was set up in 2019 and this incident happened in 2022.
“There is no evidence that this was wilful blindness on the part of the defendant or that he did not care.”
Mr Jackson said an employee responsible for checking for rodents had left shortly before the inspection and had not been replaced.
However, a pest control contractor was on the books.
He added: “This was a purpose-built premises which was inspected annually.
“It is not possible to say what occurred to allow mice to get in the chiller. There is a possibility that the building fabric was affected by two burglaries including when the safe was taken.”
Singh was fined £667 for failing to protect food.
He was also ordered to pay £6,338 costs plus the victims’ surcharge, all to be paid within three months.
There was no separate penalty for failing to comply.
The prosecution was brought under Regulation 20 of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Councillor Craig Collingswood, cabinet member for environment and climate change at Wolverhampton Council, said:
“Poor food hygiene can cause significant illnesses and this business owner has knowingly put his customers at risk.”
“This shows a shocking lack of care and responsibility and I hope other businesses take note of the court’s judgement in this case.
“Our environmental health officers work very hard to protect residents and consumers and I hope this sends out a strong message to food businesses that we take food hygiene very seriously in Wolverhampton.”