Sunderland shopkeeper banned from running a food business after inspectors find rodent infestation and dried blood smeared across walls

A shopkeeper in Sunderland has been banned from running any kind of food business after a string of offences breaching food safety and hygiene regulations.

Monday, 4th July 2022, 4:28 pm

The order was brought against Sofina Begum, of Gilsland Street, owner of Bangla Town Super Stores Ltd in Eden Terrace, Millfield by South Tyneside Magistrates, as part of a food safety and hygiene prosecution by Sunderland City Council’s environmental health team.

Mrs Begum had previously been prosecuted in 2019 for three offences under food and safety regulations after inspections revealed rodent infestations and other insanitary conditions.

In March 2021, Officers carried out further inspections and again found a rodent infestation, poor food storage and unsanitary conditions, and inadequate record keeping and documentation.

Bangla Town Super Stores conditions.

In the store’s butchery, inspectors found raw meat stored in open and damaged plastic containers, dried blood smeared across the walls, work surfaces, shelves and chiller cabinet, and no evidence of any appropriate cleaning being carried out.

There were further safety hazards as the butchers’ bandsaw had no guard on it and there was no effective anti-bacterial soap.

Officers temporarily closed the store as it posed a significant risk to public health.

At court, Mrs Begum admitted three offences of failing to comply with the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations of 2013 and was ordered by the court to pay fines and costs of £1,637.72

Waste on the floor at Bangla Town Super Stores. Photo by Sunderland City Council

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The council applied for a Hygiene Prohibition Order preventing her from operating any food business for an indefinite period, which was granted by magistrates and cannot be challenged for a period of ten years.In mitigation, Mrs Begum said that she was very sorry for what had happened, had nothing to do with the business and she had effectively been ‘forced’ into being the owner.

Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council and Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Claire Rowntree, said: "This prohibition order shows that food businesses must follow the law and protect customers and their staff.

"The management of this business in its handling, storing and general work practices in food safety and hygiene was simply not good enough. We work closely with hundreds of businesses across the city as we inspect and offer them advice.

Some of the conditions found in Bangla Town Super Stores. Photo by Sunderland City Council

"It is simply unacceptable for food premises to neglect and fail to protect the health and welfare of their customers.

"All businesses that work with food must have strict handling, preparation and all-round hygiene standards. The council is prepared to take court action where businesses and owners consistently fail to protect the public."

Food found in bowls under benches in Bangla Town Super Stores. Photo by Sunderland City Council