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Farmer falsely described chicken as ‘free range’ 

Martyn David of Forge Cottage, Picketston, Vale of Glamorgan has been fined for a range of food hygiene offences, and was discovered to be selling chicken falsely described as ‘free range’ in connection with his on-farm business, Picketston Meats.

July 30th, 2021

During routine food hygiene visits to the smallholder in Picketston in February and March 2020, officers from Shared RegulatoryChickens at Picketston Meats Services found live poultry intended for slaughter were housed in filthy conditions; the food processing room and slaughter room and equipment were dirty and covered in blood; foods were not protected from contamination; animal carcases and waste was not being appropriately stored or disposed of. 

Immediate intervention was necessary at the business when Mr David voluntarily closed and worked with officers to ensure improvements. However later that same year, in October 2020, standards had lapsed, with poor practices reoccurring.Although Mr David had a documented Food Safety Management System and cleaning schedules, they were not being implemented.

When asked, information was not available in relation to the traceability of foods, including where foods came from, and who they were supplied to.Between May and November 2020, chicken was purported to be locally sourced from Mr David’s own farm and slaughtered and processed in his own on farm facility when it was not. In October 2020, Mr David sold chicken which contained a label that falsely described it as ‘free range’ when it was not.

Mr David pleaded guilty to a range of offences under legislation covering both the poor hygiene and misdescription aspects of the case. He was fined £3500, ordered to pay £2000 costs and a victim surcharge of £190. He was prohibited from producing poultry on a commercial basis for five years.On sentencing, His Honour District Judge Harmes put a particular emphasis on Mr David’s failure to implement permanent procedures based on HACCP principles. 

Cllr Michael Michael, Chair of the Shared Regulatory Services 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.

“Shared Regulatory Services’ 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”

For further advice and guidance in relation to running an existing or new food business visit, including how to receive advice on food safety management systems, visit SRS’s food hygiene advice pages