Sewage overflow and open manholes at Castlebar bakery led to hygiene fines

Two Polish men, one being the business operator of a bakery in Castlebar, along with his employee, were convicted and fined at Castlebar District Court on Wednesday after the Health Service Executive summonsed them for not keeping the premises in good repair and condition, giving a statement to an environmental food officer which was false and misleading, and for failing to wear appropriate clothing while in the vicinity of food products.

Solicitor Patrick Durcan, who represented the HSE, outlined that the Family Bakery, Newport Road, Castlebar, was the location at which Principal Environmental Health Officer (at the time ) Mr Cathal Kearney observed breaches of hygiene practices.

Mr Kearney told the court that on Sunday March 16 while walking on the Newport Road, he saw two men dressed in food workers’ clothing outside the bakery. One of the men was kneeling down in a pool of sewage with his hand down an overflowing manhole, into which he was pushing a rod. The overflow sewage was, according to the EHO, “foul, putrid material” and was spilling onto the streets. Photos were taken by the EHO on his mobile phone, these photos were produced in court.

The men were approached by Mr Kearney, who introduced himself and tried to gain information as to what the situation was. One of the defendants present was Christin Kazmercz. On realising that their English was poor the EHO requested that they contact someone who could assist with the matter. Shortly afterwards Maciej Chlebicki, the food business operator, pulled up in a white van and explained to the EHO that he had asked the men to clear the blockage and that the men were not dressed in food handling clothing items— something which the EHO “found hard to accept”.

Mr Kearney continued in his evidence and said that both men walked back through the bakery with their “shoes sodden with the overflow” and in a food change area at the rear of the premises pulled outer clothing on top of the contaminated clothing. The EHO also noticed that while there was no baking going on in the factory there was uncovered dough and flour mix which could have become contaminated as it was close to the changing area in which the men washed their hands and put their clothes on.

A second manhole was also observed open near the rear of the premises where there were around 60 Madeira cakes sitting near the open manhole.

The EHO obtained the names of the men who were present from Chlebicki, however in due course it was deemed that the name of a brother of one of the men was given to the EHO instead of the man present— passports of the men were later handed in to confirm their identity.

The EHO said that the owner was co-operative and has no previous convictions.

Defending solicitor said that this was the first occasion that there had been a blockage and assured the court that food production ceased on Friday night/Saturday morning and that the men had only come in to clear the area and not to handle food produce. As for the open food near the second manhole, this was all disposed off.

Judge Mary Devins convicted and fined Chlebicki €700 with €1,300 also to be paid to the HSE for costs while Kazmercz was convicted and fined €300 and ordered to pay €600 towards HSE costs.

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