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Darlington butchers J Lochner Ltd fined for food hygiene offences
A LONG-ESTABLISHED family butchers has been fined thousands in court for breaching food safety regulations.
Magistrates said they were “appalled” by the conditions at J Lochner Lt in Darlington after health officers discovered dirty work areas and raw meat being stored beside ready to eat food.
Company directors, brothers Leo and David Crone, each pleaded guilty at Darlington Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, October 30) to five breaches of food safety regulations.
Prosecutor Amy Wennington explained that at the time of the officers’ routine visit on July 11, the butchers was extremely busy because the horse meat scandal had put people off buying meat from supermarkets.
She said that Leo Crone was on holiday and David Crone had been left in charge even though he had no formal food hygiene training.
Ms Wennington said: “Equipment was not kept clean.
“Ready to eat food was stored in the walk-in chiller that was not protected from contamination.
“Food handlers were not supervised and instructed in, or trained in, food hygiene matters.”
The court heard that when officers returned to the butchers on July 26, satisfactory improvements had been made.
Defending, Ken Wiper said that although the current company was formed in 1962, the butchers was first established in 1950 and had never experienced a problem with any of its products.
He said that when the business moved to its current site on Red Barnes Way 14-years-ago, the premises complied with regulations but was now “lagging behind” in certain areas.
Mr Wiper reeled off Leo Croner’s impressive list of food hygiene accreditations and said a “root and branch review” of the business had now been carried out and better training procedures put in place.
Mr Wiper added: “He (Leo) realises he ought to have implemented that sooner, but the measures have been put in place to the satisfaction of the health inspectors.”
Presiding Magistrate Ruth Dent told the brothers: “We have to say that we have been appalled at the photographs we have been shown this morning.
“We feel that such a long established business should know better than not to comply with all the regulations, however we do bear in mind that you have made an effort to improve the premises.”
Ms Dent fined each of the brothers £2,000 plus £280 in court costs and charges.
The business itself was fined £8,280, bringing the total payable to £12,840.