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Problems due to ‘exceptional circumstances’
A popular Ilkley eatery has been fined £3,500 after admitting eight charges of contravening food hygiene regulations.
An environmental health officer found kitchen walls and floors at The Yard bar, Brook Street, were “filthy” when she carried out an inspection last June.
Grease was running down the wall under a ventilation canopy, a bag of raw sausages were left next to a covered tray of cooked food, and a bag of raw burgers was lying on top of a bag of ready-to-eat lettuce, Bradford and Keighley Magistrates heard yesterday.
The inspector also found carrot and coriander soup in the kitchen which had been made ten days earlier.
Towels used to dry hands had been used to clean work surfaces.
Bradford Council brought the prosecution against owners Project Pub Company (Ilkley).
Harjit Ryatt, prosecuting, told the court previous inspections of the premises had also resulted in concerns about kitchen procedures.
The June inspection revealed problems with a food handler’s training in the company’s food management system.
Representing the company, Gary Hodgson told how it had taken action to improve its kitchen management, training and records. The Yard went on to regain a four star food hygiene rating in its last Bradford Council inspection in December.
He said: “The company has taken all the steps they were advised to during their interview, and really it’s following the Bible to a letter.”
Mr Hodgson showed the magistrates examples of good customer reviews from consumer website TripAdvisor.
No customer complaints were received, he said, no injury was caused, and actual cross-contamination of raw and cooked food was never established.
The court was told the company’s head chef at the time of the inspection had taken 28 unforeseen days off in a two-month period, following two family bereavements.
The company has awarded contracts to laundry and deep cleaning specialists, and hired an external consultant to carry out kitchen management audits. It has also bought new fridges and taken on a replacement head chef.
Magistrates took the company’s guilty plea into account. In addition to imposing a fine, they ordered the company to pay £1,250 prosecution costs to Bradford Council, a further £675 prosecution costs, and a victim surcharge of £120.
The company’s managing director, Adam Lewis, spoke at the hearing.
In a statement after the hearing, Project Pub Company (Ilkley) said it was surprised proceedings were taken to such lengths given the “exceptional circumstances” and efforts made by the company.
It said: “PPC admits over this extraordinary period, system failures occurred and it failed to comply with all written compliance legislation. At no point however was the kitchen shut down over concerns to the public’s health.”
Magistrates were told business was down by thousands of pounds since court proceedings began.
Bradford Councillor Andrew Thornton, the executive member for environment, sport and sustainability, said: “Our environmental health officers work hard to ensure that food prepared, cooked and served to customers anywhere in the district is safe for people to eat.
“A food business which operates without ensuring that the kitchen is kept up to scratch faces the risk of being taken to court.
“We would rather work with food businesses to ensure that the public is not put at risk by poor hygiene but where our advice is ignored, we will use the law to ensure customer safety.
“We are glad that the courts, by treating such offences seriously, support the work that we do.”