Holland & Barrett fined over £30,000

Holland and Barrett’s proud motto “We’re good for you” fell short of the mark this month, when fined more than £30,000 for food hygiene breaches caused by rodents. Prosecution took place on 13th September 2012 at Highbury Magistrates court.

Food intended for human consumption (popcorn and other grains) became a banquet for rats and mice that had been living, breeding and feeding within Holland and Barrett’s Islington store.

Failures came to light when an inspection was carried out by Islington Council’s Environmental Health department. On inspection “a catalogue of breaches” were identified. This first inspection resulted in advice being given to the staff and management of the store, regarding urgent improvements.

A re-visit took place on 1st December 2011 when the visiting Environmental Health Practitioner discovered that the advice had been ignored and the situation had become worse.

Extensive mice droppings were found on shelves and packets of nuts, seeds and popcorn had been gnawed. Shelves and stock packages were sticky with urine and the basement, stockrooms and sales floor were also contaminated with urine and faeces.

Due to the significant risk to public health, prosecution proceedings commenced and on 13th September 2012 at Highbury Magistrates court where Holland and Barrett pleaded guilty to seven charges under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006. Receiving a fine of £30,000 with costs of £2,342 a Holland and Barrett spokeswoman said, “We are deeply disappointed in the failings in our risk management systems, we hope to have significantly moved on.”

Councillor Paul Smith, Executive Member for the Environment stated, “The size of the fine indicates how seriously the judge took this breach of public health.”