Former Worksop butcher banned from running his own stores after admitting raft of food hygiene offences

A popular butcher who had a store in Worksop has been banned from running his own shops after admitting breaching a raft of health and safety laws which led to elderly people potentially being exposed to life-threatening bacteria.

By Andy Done-Johnson
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 1:40 pm

Robert Bowring, owner of the Bowring Butchers chain, appeared before Nottingham Crown Court for sentencing on Tuesday, February 22, after admitting eight counts of failing to comply with food safety and hygiene regulations at an earlier hearing, in a prosecution brought by Mansfield District Council.

The court heard that council Environmental Health inspectors had made numerous visits to Bowring’s Mansfield Woodhouse store during 2019, after it emerged that potted beef had become infected with listeria monocytogenes – a bacterial infection which can cause a high temperature of 38C or above, aches and pains, chills, feeling sick or vomiting, and diarrhoea.

But in the elderly and vulnerable, it can lead to sepsis and possible death.

The misleading sign placed in the window

Prosecuting, Timothy Pole said that Bowring, who used to have a shop in Worksop town centre, had provided potted beef and cooked meats to care homes for the elderly which were all infected with the bug.

Bowring also has shops in Chesterfield, Shirebrook, Bolsover, Mansfield and Mansfield Woodhouse.

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One elderly Mansfield resident died after consuming the potted beef – although her cause of death was listed as heart failure, and the judge ruled that ‘she had died with listeria rather than as a result of it’.

He's been banned from running his own stores

In numerous visits during the first half on 2019, council staff recorded a range of offences, including contaminated knives and trays, salad being stored in meat fridges and prepared next to them, and cross-contamination with raw and cooked products stored side-by-side.

Food safety records were not kept and on one occasion meat was still being sold in the stores on the day before it was deemed unfit for human consumption.

A black book, which was referred to as where all this information was stored, was never delivered to Environmental Health staff, and employees who were handling raw meat admitted taking card payments without first washing their hands.

On one occasion the Mansfield Woodhouse store, which was where all ready-to-eat products were produced before being shipped to other stores, was ordered to display a product recall notice on the window and on Facebook, and for the store to close for a deep clean.

But when inspectors visited the store shortly afterwards, no sign had been displayed and a ‘misleading’ notice had been placed on the window, saying it was shut do to an electrical fault. It was also still offering a delivery service to customers spending £30 or over, the court heard.

Mitigating, Julia Kendrick said that Bowring, aged 58, of Sookholme Road, Mansfield, had now stepped away from the business to concentrate on his farming activities, and the stores were now being run by his son and other relatives.

She said: “He feels personally responsible for the shortcomings, even though there were people working for him who were expected to make sure that procedures were followed. It’s very clear that he was over-stretched.”

The Mansfield Woodhouse store now has a 4* food hygiene rating, she told the court.

Judge Nigel Godsmark QC banned Bowring from playing any management role in the butchery business, but said that he could still deliver orders, and enter the shops to collect goods.

He also fined him £25,000 and ordered him to pay £40,000 in prosecution costs.

He told him: “You had a blind spot in matters of food hygiene. If you were over-stretched, you should have employed someone with the time and expertise to do it properly. You failed the public in your responsibility to keep them safe.”

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