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Norwich bakery closes after inspectors find rodent droppings and mould

PUBLISHED: 11:51 05 February 2015 | UPDATED: 16:12 05 February 2015

Environmental Health officers pictures of The Uppercrust in Dereham Road, Norwich.

Environmental Health officers pictures of The Uppercrust in Dereham Road, Norwich.

Archant

An independent city bakery has closed its doors for good after being prosecuted for a string of hygiene breaches.

The Upper Crust bakery in Dereham Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY The Upper Crust bakery in Dereham Road, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Inspectors carrying out checks at The Uppercrust, in Dereham Road, found rodent droppings and mould near to ingredients, loose rodent bait in the flour store and out-of-date meat on sale.

At a sentencing hearing at Norwich Magistrates’ Court yesterday, the firm admitted that hygiene standards had slipped, claiming, in part, this was because it was struggling to stay afloat following the opening of a nearby Tesco Express and Greggs bakery.

The business, which also supplied bread to UEA Sportspark, the Coach and Horses in Thorpe Road and the Fat Cat pub among others, was fined as a result of the breaches.

David Lowens, for Norwich City Council, said an environmental health officer spotted problems on a routine inspection in 2013.

Environmental Health officers pictures of The Uppercrust in Dereham Road, Norwich. Rodent droppings in the flour store. Environmental Health officers pictures of The Uppercrust in Dereham Road, Norwich. Rodent droppings in the flour store.

“She very quickly came to the view that matters were extremely serious from a food hygiene point of view and immediately called for back up and a camera,” he said. “There were a large number of things wrong, but the authority has focused on a small number.”

He said the officer found rodent droppings and loose rodent bait in the flour store, mould on the ceiling, dirty worktops and out-of-date ham on sale.

Written records had been wrongly completed to claim areas had been cleaned when they had not, and a leaky roof had been addressed with a “bodged repair” using a vessel to catch the water, added Mr Lowens.

He said standards were still not being met on a return inspection. The Uppercrust employed three part-time staff and had two directors, with one of them - Richard Broad - in court.

Guilty pleas were entered to six food hygiene counts on behalf of the firm.

James Landals, for The Uppercrust, said hygiene had been the responsibility of former director Peter Whitlam, and the firm admitted it “should have kept a closer eye on things”.

He added there had been a “sharp financial decline” since the opening of a Greggs bakery on the industrial estate by Halfords, and of a Tesco Express at the old Dial pub in Dereham Road.

Employees would have been let go but the company could not afford redundancy payouts, so tried to continue with “relatively old premises with outmoded equipment”, said Mr Landals.

The Uppercrust stopped trading on December 31, 2014, and directors were in the process of winding the company up. “It’s a sad story,” said Mr Landals.

Malcolm Bird, chaiman of the bench, fined the firm £200 and £20 costs due to its limited funds.

“If we had been dealing with the company trading under normal circumstances, this would be completely different,” he said.

A Norwich City Council spokesman said: “Our food and safety team is continuously working with businesses to check and improve hygiene standards.

“We welcome this outcome which shows that failure to comply with these standards will not be tolerated.

“The premises has since been occupied by a new business who are carrying out extensive refurbishment.”

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