Mouldy food on the menu

The Steer Inn, in Wilberfoss.
The Steer Inn, in Wilberfoss.

Mouldy and out-of-date food was found in the kitchen of a restaurant in the area, and its owner has subsequently been fined by magistrates after admitting a string of offences under the food safety regulations.

Darren Crossfield, who ran The Steer Inn in Wilberfoss, appeared before Beverley Magistrates’ Court last Tuesday (7 April) where he as an individual, and his company, The Steer Inn (Pocklington) Ltd, of which he is the sole director, pleaded guilty to a total of 17 charges under regulation 19(1) of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.

Magistrates heard how inspectors from East Riding Council’s food safety team visited The Steer Inn in January 2014 following a complaint from a diner who had found dog excrement on the floor in the restaurant.

The court heard that a number of inspections were carried out by officers who found that food in the kitchen was mouldy and unfit for human consumption, a large quantity of food was being served to the public that had exceeded its use by date, raw meat was being prepared in direct contact with ready to eat salad items posing a serious risk of cross contamination.

Inspectors also found kitchen equipment was in an unhygienic condition due to disrepair and there was a failure to carry out regular disinfection and cleaning while food safety systems, monitoring checks and procedures were not in place and food handlers consistently demonstrated a lack of understanding of food safety issues.

Crossfield, 52, who now lives in Elvington, also admitted failing to comply with a hygiene improvement notice requiring food hygiene training for his staff.

In his defence, Crossfield said he was the sole director of The Steer Inn (Pocklington) Ltd and had admitted he had taken over the running of the premises with no knowledge of running a kitchen or a restaurant but said he had been worked in pubs and bars “with no problems before” and he had been “naive” and had been led to believe the chef had the right qualifications relating to food hygiene.

Crossfield told the court that The Steer Inn had ceased trading on 31 December, 2014 and that he was in the process of liquidating the company, which had no assets.

The company was fined £8,500, ordered to pay costs of £1,392 and a victim surcharge of £120.

For the individual charges, Crossfield was fined a total of £2,750, ordered to pay costs of £1,392 and victim surcharge of £120.

Chair of the bench at Beverley Magistrates’ Court, Mr Graham McDonald told Crossfield: “These were appalling offences which people could have become seriously ill or even died as a result of salmonella.

“Your naivety was dangerous and the fact you relied on your chef was extremely foolish.”

Paul Abbott, manager for public protection at East Riding Council, said: “The council’s food safety team had offered considerable advice to the food business operator of the premises in an attempt to produce safe food but despite being rated a zero under the food hygiene rating scheme, he had failed to make meaningful improvements.

“The council will always try to work with businesses to ensure the food they sell is safe and they are compliant with the relevant legislation however, where a business shows a clear disregard for their responsibilities, we have little option but to initiate legal proceedings.

“The council’s food safety team is one of the most active and successful in the country and we work closely with all food businesses in the East Riding, of which over 90 per cent are broadly compliant and score well on the food hygiene rating system.”

The food hygiene rating scheme makes it easier for consumers to choose places with good hygiene standards when they are eating out or shopping for food. A score of five is the highest with zero the worst.