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Food store manager given suspended jail sentence for selling out of date meat and cheese

PUBLISHED: 18:14 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 07:59 22 March 2018

Baltic Foods manager is given suspended jail sentence. Picture Archant.

Baltic Foods manager is given suspended jail sentence. Picture Archant.

Archant

The former manager of a food store has been given a suspended jail sentence after admitting selling out of date meat and cheese, some of which was mouldy.

Ferhat Aras, 36, was prosecuted by Fenland District Council after he failed to improve food safety standards at Baltic International Food in Hill Street, Wisbech, following inspections by environmental health officers.

Aras, of Granby Street, Littleport, a director of the company, pleaded guilty to eight food safety and hygiene offences and was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court.

Aras used to run a store in Littleport before moving his business to Wisbech in around 2016 when he was granted a licence to sell alcohol despite fierce objections from the police and trading standards.

Councillor Mike Cornwell, the council’s cabinet member for environmental health, said of the food offences: “These were serious issues which could have led to a food poisoning outbreak had enforcement action not been taken.

“It is disappointing the defendant did not take the support offered to him to avoid the council having to take legal action.

“The prosecution should hopefully send out a clear message to other food business operators and reassurance to consumers that poor food hygiene and safety standards will not be tolerated.”

Aras was appointed director of Baltic International Food in June 2016 but resigned in September 2017 as investigations into him continued.

Chris Hopkins, prosecution barrister, said environmental health officers made several visits to the store between September 2016 and January 2017, where numerous food safety contraventions were identified, including:

• More than 130 packs of cooked meats and cheese found with expired ‘use by dates’. Some of the products were weeks out of date. Some were mouldy.

• Cooked meats which had been identified by the Food Standards Agency as potentially contaminated with listeria were stored on ambient shelves despite clear instruction to store at 0 to 60C.

• No hand washing facilities were provided for staff handling and slicing meats in the delicatessen.

• Poor standards of cleanliness in delicatessen.

• No food safety management procedures.

• Failure to adequately train and supervise staff.

• Failure to comply with food hygiene improvement notices.

Senior environmental health officers offered advice and guidance on good hygiene and food safety standards, followed up by formal enforcement notices to improve – all of which were ignored.

The court heard that the breaches were intentional and Aras had shown “a flagrant disregard for food safety rules”.

Aras pleaded guilty at an early stage and said he was remorseful. He has no other relevant previous convictions.

He was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months. He was also given 100 hours unpaid community work and ordered to pay the council’s prosecution costs of £2,439.27.

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