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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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Carlisle man ran illegal meat business from filthy garage

Inspectors who raided a former market trader’s home in Carlisle discovered that he was running an illegal meat business from his filthy double garage.

Richard Ferguson, 37, has admitted nine allegations of breaching the UK’s food hygiene regulations.

At the city’s magistrates’ court, city council prosecutor Clare Liddle outlined how environmental health officers were tipped off in January last year that Ferguson was illegally selling meat by delivering it to private homes.

It was claimed he was selling sausages, burgers, lamb, pork and venison.

One witness told officials that Ferguson had been selling him meat – including lamb and belly pork – for more than 10 years and that for two years he gave him £300 a month for it.

When inspectors visited his home at Moorhouse Road, Belle Vue, they discovered that the double garage was being used as a meat cutting room.

There was a sausage making machine, a mincing machine, knives and packing materials, as well as large quantities of seasoning products.

Mrs Liddle said: “There were no sinks or hot water in the garage for washing food, equipment, utensils or for hand washing.

“There was evidence of poor hygiene standards such as a mouldy section of lamb hanging from a hook, and unfit mouldy pork joints in the fridge.”

There was also evidence of rodent droppings and no records to show where the meat had come from.

Mrs Liddle added: “It’s the council’s opinion that there was an imminent risk of injury to health due to the unhygienic conditions observed.

“None of the meat products could be considered safe to eat.”

Further investigations, she said, revealed that in December 2012 Ferguson had sold 179 chickens, pheasants, turkeys and ducks at various auction houses, together worth £1,300.

Despite this the defendant failed to register his food business with the council.

Margaret Payne, for Ferguson, said her client, a keen huntsman and shooter, had began preparing pheasants to eat so he could give them as a thank you to farmers on whose land he had been shooting.

“He had pleaded guilty to carrying out a food business but he says it was extremely limited,” said Mrs Payne.

She said her client did not accept the claim of a witness who claimed the defendant sold him meat worth £300 every month for two years.

“He denies ever dealing with turkeys but he does accept he had poultry for sale at Christmas markets,” she said.

“He didn’t realise he needed a food business operator’s licence to do that.”

Having once run a food and game business at Carlisle indoor market, he had kept some of the expensive equipment he used in his garage, she said.

Magistrates ruled that their powers to sentence Ferguson were inadequate and they sent the case to Carlisle Crown Court, where the defendant will be dealt with on February 14.

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