Britain's worst pub kitchen

This picture shows the conditions inside Britain's worst pub kitchen, the Rose and Crown in Thaxted, Essex, where inspectors found nearly 200 items of rotting food.
Environmental health officials immediately closed the establishment after discovering the piles of expired ingredients.

Work surfaces and utensils were smothered in thick grease, floors littered with rotting detritus and fridges covered in mould and dozens of dirty food containers.

The kitchen did not even have any running hot running water meaning staff could not wash up or clean their hands properly.

Inspectors found the owner was still preparing food in the rancid conditions.

The discovery was made after a surprise inspection by environmental health officers from Uttlesford District Council on December 9 last year.

In total, 190 items of "mouldy, slimy, putrescent or expired foodstuffs" were found at the scene.

The owner of the pub, Nicholas Marchetto, pleaded guilty to 23 food and hygiene offences at Harlow Magistrates' Court.

He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay another £1,000 towards the council's costs.

Geoff Smith, the council's head of environmental health, described the conditions at the pub as "totally unacceptable".

He said: "The conditions demonstrated a complete breakdown of any hygiene management controls and a disregard for consumer safety when food continued to be prepared in the conditions found.

"The large quantity unfit for human consumption on the premises had placed public health at risk.

"Where offences of such magnitude are identified, this authority will not hesitate to take legal proceedings to secure compliance and ensure the safety of the consumer."

Food hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerley, a former environmental health officer with 20 years experience, said the case was one of the worst she had ever seen.

Dr Ackerley, who runs food safety consultancy Hygiene Audit Systems, said: "What has astonished me about this case is that the owner was still running the kitchen and serving the food.

"It looks like he is almost wilfully trying to poison people because there is just no way that a person wouldn't realise that this is potentially lethal for customers.

"After more than 20 years in the business I have never seen such a large amount of spoilage.

"The poisoning caused by this bacterial growth isn't always just about sickness and diarrhoea.

"As we saw last week with the ecoli outbreak which killed a little boy this sort of bad hygiene can cause major health complications and even death.

"The fine for this man is just not high enough – he can't even plead ignorance of health and safety laws – he shouldn't be allowed to serve food again."

Twelve of the offences were under the General Food and Regulations 2004; seven under the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 and four under the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

Mr Marchetto has now reopened the pub and says that he has "put things right". It is not currently serving food.

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