Cheese producer prosecuted after food safety failings

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: Mendip District council. Photos taken in November 2014
Picture: Mendip District council. Photos taken in November 2014

Related tags: Food, Cheese

A UK-based cheese producer has been prosecuted after consistent findings of Listeria.

Frances Wood, of Alham Wood Cheeses, Higher Alham Farm, West Cranmore, was sentenced for two offences under the 2013 Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations.

She pleaded guilty to the charges at an earlier hearing. Wood was fined £787 for the two offences and £6,000 in prosecution costs were awarded to the council.

Wood was also banned from managing any cheese production or processing business.

She had been making cheese, mostly buffalo mozzarella and other white cheeses, before selling them on to pizza restaurants outside of Mendip and at London farmers markets.

Alham Wood Cheeses 2
Picture: Mendip District Council

When asked about illnesses linked to the company, Mendip District Council said there are none it can positively identify, however most of the cheese was sold outside of Mendip (most notably in London).

The judge described the business as a “shoddy operation" which was "rather amateurish". 

He said Wood had been "carrying on taking risks when she shouldn't have" and that cheese was "a high-risk product and higher standards of diligence were required.

Cheese, sampled by independent laboratories, showed harmful bacteria, most notably Listeria and the pathogen was also found in samples taken by the council and Wood.

Sampling results also showed Salmonella and E. coli.

Stuart Cave, corporate manager for services and corporate finance, said: "Despite repeated attempts by the council's environmental health officers to work with Mrs Wood to ensure she produced a good quality, safe product, she continued to produce cheeses which posed a danger to public health.

"Prosecution is always a last resort, but we will not hesitate to take legal action against food manufacturers who do not take their responsibilities seriously and repeatedly put public health at risk."

Related topics: Regulation & Safety, Cheese

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