Landlord of village pub near Hitchin hit with £7,000 bill over food hygiene offences including serving out-of-date chicken and lasagne

The Motte & Bailey pub in Pirton, pictured in 2010. Photo: Alan Millard

The Motte & Bailey pub in Pirton, pictured in 2010. Photo: Alan Millard - Credit: Archant

The landlord of a village pub near Hitchin has been hit with a £7,000 bill after admitting a series of food hygiene offences, including serving out-of-date chicken and lasagne.

Andrew Barker, who runs The Motte & Bailey in Pirton, pleaded guilty to 10 counts of breaching food safety regulations when he appeared before Stevenage magistrates on Friday last week.

The 41-year-old, of Great Green, admitted serving out-of-date chicken breasts and beef lasagne, failing to protect food from contamination, and not providing enough washbasins for cleaning hands – all issues spotted during an inspection on May 12 last year.

A North Herts District Council environmental health officer found cooked ham stored in direct contact with raw steak at the bottom of one of the filthy fridges, which were covered with spilt blood, grease and food crumbs.

It was also noted that there was no adequate lighting around the oven and fryer, that no protective clothing was worn by those handling food, and that procedures following the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points principles were not being maintained.

Despite advice given by the officer, little improvement was found when another inspection was carried out on November 22 – with more evidence gathered then.

Magistrates chaired by Nigel Pollard fined Barker a total of £5,300 for the offences, and also ordered him to pay costs of £1,682.50 and a £60 victim surcharge – making a total of £7,042.50.

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They gave him credit for his guilty pleas.

The Motte & Bailey received a food hygiene rating of three out of five – ‘generally satisfactory’ – from North Herts District Council inspectors in December.

And Barker, representing himself, told the court in mitigation that he accepted the issues raised and was sorry for the condition the premises had fallen into.

He added that there had been significant changes, with food services reduced and management systems now in place, and that he now wanted to concentrate on the management of his business.

A district council spokeswoman said: “The vast majority of catering premises in North Herts comply with food hygiene legislation and respond positively to advice they are given.

“This business was found not to have a food management system in place – which is a legal requirement that sets out, among other issues, how cross-contamination of things like raw and cooked meat is avoided.

“This prosecution sends out a clear message to food business operators – food hygiene regulations are in place to protect the public and if standards are not maintained there will be serious consequences.”

Contacted by the Comet after the court hearing, Barker declined to comment.