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 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.
Fiona Sinclair is director of leading UK food safety consultancy STS. She says: “This business was previously known to local EHO’s for having sub standard hygiene practices, but it actually beggars belief that any food business operator could think this was an acceptable practice. It appears to have been the final straw. When advice and warnings to clean up their act fell on deaf ears and hygiene standards continued to decline, the local council quite rightly saw fit to exercise their powers and prosecute the business.
“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? Ones imagination could run wild…
“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.
“This 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.”