Filth everywhere, animal droppings on the floor – and even a dead rat.
This is what City of York Council officers discovered when they visited a York food shop acting on complaints from the public.
These pictures show the inside of Anderson’s Greengrocers on York Road, Acomb.
And they helped convict the shop owner of major hygiene breaches, including:
- not acting to prevent a rat infestation
- presenting food not fit for human consumption
- displaying an incorrect food hygiene rating
- and failing to dispose of waste correctly.
Rat droppings throughout
Gary Anderson, 54, of Northfield Lane, Riccall, who runs the shop, was found guilty in his absence at York Magistrates’ Court of a number of offences relating to food hygiene, environmental health and waste disposal.
Instead of hiring a licensed contractor to take away his rubbish, Anderson put his business refuse in other company’s bins as well as accumulating it in and around his shop which led to a rat infestation.
Following a complaint in September 2016, council staff visited the shop.
They found half-eaten dry foods, rotting fruit and vegetables and rat droppings throughout the store, wash rooms and smeared on the shelves and floor in the shop, all contravening food safety and hygiene regulations.
Anderson was also found to be displaying a food hygiene rating of five when he was not entitled to do so, after the premises had been previously assessed as having a hygiene rating of just two.
The owner agreed to close the shop and was permitted to trade from the front forecourt and to store the stock in his van.
He was issued with a notice to clean up, dispose of the waste, repair damage to the property and carry out routine checks to stop the problems recurring. This notice was not complied with.
Numerous visits were made to the premises to check progress with tackling the rat infestation, removing waste and checking that the premises remained closed.
On 8 November 2016, the premises was allowed to reopen as the infestation had been stopped, the shop had been cleaned and the waste removed.
But further violations saw Anderson summoned to court to face four offences of failing to correctly dispose of waste from the shop between 24 June 2016 and 7 February 2017 and one offence of failing to comply with a notice preventing pests.
He failed to attend the court hearing. The magistrates found him guilty in his absence and issued a warrant for Mr Anderson’s arrest.
They said it was a “flagrant disregard over a long period of time”, that multiple offers of help were made but ignored by the defendant and that Anderson put both local business and the public at risk.
The magistrates also thanked the “dedicated officers” in this case.
People put at considerable risk
Cllr Sam Lisle, executive member for housing and safer neighbourhoods at City of York Council, said: “The information and advice council officers gave this business was ignored, leaving customers, nearby residents and businesses at considerable risk from poor hygiene, pest control and irresponsible waste disposal.
“The vast majority of local businesses follow safe and proper practices and anyone wanting expert advice on food hygiene issues can visit www.york.gov.uk or call us on (01904) 551525 for help and information.
“If residents or businesses are concerned regarding unlawful waste disposal please call (01904) 551551 for the matter to be investigated.”
The sensationalist way the news were delivered by Megi Rychlikova in The Press (on a page that accepts no comments) made me feel slightly sick.
It’s easier to write or censure, than be a greengrocer these days.
Has she any idea how hard it is to daily manage all this highly perishable produce, among other things?
Especially when most people won’t bother to support local small businesses who also support local farmers, but just flock to supermarkets, the oligopolies, to buy even their greens there?
(Do they ever think that’s what they’ll end up with – oligopolies and empty, sad, unsafe streets?).
Where the former greengrocer had failed, Gary had no end of trouble, even disasters, and as a result, hefty fine from the council, already way back…
This is incredibly sad, it’s about a man’s & his family’s life, and also a village’s, and not to be treated as “a good scoop”, reported with bad or insensitive journalism.
The authorities may have had limited choice. But it’s also for #smallisbeautiful another defeat in the long fight of the independent small shops against the supermarkets, and more specifically the struggle of Acomb to retain an independent greengrocer. And Gary was truly struggling, in no way was this a crook laughing all the way to the bank. Not many laughs from Gary, in the last year.
We were free to pick veg for ourselves, and I always picked fresh veg; many were fresher than at the supermarket, without being kept over-refrigerated (which is not so good for it), and so much cheaper – we’ve saved so much in all these years.
Also, unfresh veg is easy to spot, unlike meat, so it’s easy for buyers just not to pick that one which is less fresh; and unlike meat, it wouldn’t kill anyone anyway.
We ate the last produce got from him (from a large tray of beautiful white mushrooms, bought on Friday) this morning at breakfast. Fighting back the tears.
Struggling to mop a floor and pick up a dead rat? That’s literally ten minutes of work. You are defending someone with contempt for the public’s health which is laughable.