Farmer fined for ‘filthy conditions’ and wrongly labelling chicken free range
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
A poultry farmer in the Vale of Glamorgan has been fined more than £5,000 for “filthy conditions” and wrongly labelling chicken as free range.
Martyn David, aged 55, of Forge Cottage, ran Picketston Meats from a farm near St Athan – but has now been banned from producing poultry commercially for five years.
Food inspectors found his food processing and slaughter rooms and equipment were dirty and covered in blood.
He pleaded guilty on July 23 to offices under laws on poor hygiene and false descriptions of food. He was ordered to pay a total fine of £5,640, according to the court.
The problems were found by inspectors from Shared Regulatory Services (SRS), which brought the case at Cardiff Magistrates’ Court. SRS works on behalf of Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and Bridgend councils in environmental health, trading standards and licensing.
Councillor Michael Michael, chair of the SRS joint committee, said: “Mr David was capitalising on the demand for locally produced free-range food, but was not implementing the systems to run a safe food business.
“It is fundamental that businesses think about what they are doing, how they do it safely and not mislead the public. SRS officers work hard to ensure compliance within food businesses across Bridgend, Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan.
“Prosecution is usually the final resort after the offer of advice and guidance. This case demonstrates, despite officers’ best efforts, some businesses fail to adhere to food safety laws and therefore put public health at risk.”
In February and March last year, SRS inspectors found poultry for slaughter in filthy conditions. They also found food not protected from contamination, and animal carcasses not appropriately stored or disposed of.
Mr David chose to close his business and then work with SRS to improve conditions. But in October inspectors again found problems including a lack of information tracing where food came from. Chicken was also falsely labelled as slaughtered and processed on his farm.
Cllr Eddie Williams, Vale council cabinet member for legal, regulatory and planning services, said: “This is an example of an individual showing little regard for either food safety or the need to accurately describe produce.
“Food law controls are in place to keep people safe and not abiding by them can have serious consequences for the individuals that consume such products. It is also important that food is labelled correctly so the public can be clear about exactly what they are buying.
“Mr David has consistently failed to meet these requirements and that will not be tolerated. I hope this case sends a message to others thinking of flouting food legislation. Our officers are thorough in ensuring standards are met and we will not hesitate to take action against anyone found to be breaking the rules.”
No contact details were found for Picketston Meats for comment. Advice on running food businesses and complying with hygiene rules can be found on the SRS website.
Mr David was charged with contravening or failing to comply with food hygiene and food safety regulations; engaging in misleading advertising; and selling food not of the substance or quality demanded by the purchaser.
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This is the sort of behaviour that enables hostile anti-farming types to gain the upper hand. Delinquents must be put out of business, harshly punished as an example to others. Good practice must be encouraged and rewarded at a time when the UK Government is throwing the door open for other nations to access our food supply sectors. The best reward for good practice is the loyalty of consumers here in Wales and elsewhere in the UK instead of dashing off and buying imported produce of suspect provenance.