A UK bakery has been hit with an £11,000 penalty after a customer reported a pack of its bread buns contained a screw.
A W Curtis Bakers and Butchers pleaded guilty to placing unsafe food on the market in a case brought by North Kesteven District (NKDC) and City of Lincoln Council.
Appearing before a district judge at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court this week, director Neil Curtis said the firm failed to have adequate food hygiene procedures in place for a period of more than six months.
He admitted failure to ensure food equipment was maintained in good condition, as the screw came loose from a flour bin lid.
Screw in bread buns
The court heard a customer bought a pack of bread buns from a supermarket in Waddington in June last year and found the screw baked into one of the rolls.
Products that should have passed through a metal detector were not being scanned as required, and maintenance records were incomplete, according to the council.
An inspection at the firm’s Lincoln factory showed they had received three previous complaints from customers who had found metal in products including cake and a pork pie.
The city council issued a hygiene improvement notice but a further inspection showed the firm removed metal detection as a critical control point, it has since been reinstated.
Report unexpected finds
Councillor Richard Wright, NKDC’s executive board member with responsibility for food safety and enforcement, said the case showed how important it was for consumers who found unexpected things in their food to report it to their local council’s food team.
“When we bite into a bun, open a bag of frozen veg or delve into a bag of crisps it can be so easy for us to simply think that whatever we find there is disgraceful or disgusting and throw it away, but it can also be very dangerous and should be reported to prevent similar things affecting other consumers," he said.
“As the judge in this case said, this was a serious failing which put this person at risk of significant injury if the screw was swallowed and digested. The public has a right to expect that all food being produced for them is being produced safely and it’s the council’s responsibility to ensure businesses adhere to this.”
A W Curtis was fined £3,000 for placing unsafe food on the market, plus a £15 victims’ surcharge.
For failing to follow its own food safety procedures the company was fined £2,500, with a £2,500 fine for failing to maintain food processing equipment.
Costs of £1,750 were awarded to City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council was awarded £1,500.
District judge John Stobart said: “I’m aware the bakery has installed a machine to ensure any metal is detected. That machine should be used. Here it is absolutely apparent that certain products for whatever reason were being diverted and not put through the machine. That is a serious failing.”