The previous owners of a bakery that featured on a BBC programme with celebrity chef Mary Berry have been ordered to pay £28,070 following the discovery of a string of poor food safety and hygiene practises, including an infestation of mice and cockroaches.
During sentencing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court on 6 June 2019, Lefteris Bakery Limited, located at Green Lanes, Palmers Green, was ordered to pay fines totalling £25,000 relating to 18 offences contrary to Regulation 19 of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations, 2013. They were also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 and legal costs of £2,900.
The offences relate to a period before the bakery was sold to different owners in October 2018. The new company trades with the original name and is based at the same address. There is no suggestion the new owners have done anything wrong.
No representative of the previous owners of the bakery attended court to face the charges, despite being aware of the hearing, so the prosecution proved the case in their absence.
Enfield Council had been monitoring the bakery since March 2014, initially finding several issues including a cockroach infestation, no food hygiene training, no soap or hygienic hand drying facilities at wash basins and no adequate disinfection taking place.
A return visit in January 2015 resulted in a Food Hygiene Rating of zero. This rating, at the bottom of the scale, means urgent improvement is required. A score of below three is deemed to be non-compliant with food law.
The one time the premises were found to be food compliant was in November 2015, just before the BBC filmed a Mary Berry Programme “Easter Feast” in January 2016. However inspectors found that once the cameras stopped rolling, the bakery reverted back to its former inadequate hygiene regime. Follow-up inspections to May 2018 found the premises to be in a poor state of hygiene.
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing Regulatory Services, Cllr George Savva, said: “We take a dim view of any food outlets whose premises aren't kept in a hygienic state for the manufacture and sale of food. We have the right to expect the food we buy is safe to eat and has been prepared in clean conditions. It doesn’t matter how big or small the business, or whether you have appeared on national television, everyone will be assessed in the same way by our inspectors.”
The bakery’s former director, James Nicolaou, who is being prosecuted personally, did not attend court. A warrant not backed by bail has been issued for the arrest of Mr. Nicolaou, which the Metropolitan Police is actively seeking to enforce.
The Food Standards Agency website can help advise people on where to eat out or shop for food. It can tell you how seriously a business takes their food hygiene standards. More information can be found at the Food Standards Agency.