Updated: Pub restaurant boss pledges to regain high standards after fine for food hygiene failings

A pub owner must pay more than £1,300 after food hygiene inspectors found eight counts of unsafe food on his premises in one routine visit – including a beef steak nearly three weeks past its use by date.

John Clark, operator of the popular Queen’s Head Inn and Restaurant in Kirkby la Thorpe, pleaded guilty at Boston Magistrates’ Court on Monday, March 2 eight separate food hygiene offences identified by North Kesteven District Council Environmental Health Officers.

During a routine inspection of The Queen’s Head on December 12, 2019, officers discovered a number of food items available for sale which were unsafe for consumption.

These included a total of 24 beef steaks, one with a use by date of November 24, 2019 and the rest with dates ranging from December 1-5, which had been refrigerated but not previously frozen.

1 Star Food Hygiene rating

Also found was a rolled beef joint dated December 7, a pack of gravlax dated December 9 and a carton of cream dated November 29. 

Mr Clark entered an early guilty plea at the hearing, and was fined £333, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £33 and also told to contribute £1,000 towards costs.

In mitigation, the court heard he had experienced some difficult personal circumstances, but that he would throw himself more fully into the business and seek to have the hygiene rating reassessed.

Public Protection Manager at North Kesteven District Council with responsibility for food hygiene Mark Stuart said after the hearing: “While we work closely with all businesses in our district to ensure they comply with food hygiene legislation, occasionally it is necessary for us to take enforcement action to protect public health. Unfortunately, this was one such case.” 

All food businesses in the district are given a food hygiene rating by the council’s Environmental Health officers.

While the Queen’s Head has historically been marked at the highest five star hygiene rating, it dropped in July 2019 to one. At the time inspectors found the cleanliness and condition of the facilities were very good and hygienic food

handling was generally satisfactory, but management of food safety needed major improvement.

Executive Board member for food hygiene, Coun Mervyn Head said: “We want people to have confidence in the quality of food premises across our district, and while 98.1% of them have a hygiene rating of three or above there is a small percentage of business owners who are failing to meet the desired standards.

“This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to protecting consumers when those standards have failed.”

The council has offered its advice and assistance to help the business raise its food standards once more.

Mr Clark has since responded to the news of his fine and lowered food rating and is said to be hoping to regain the high standards at a future inspection having returned to running the kitchen after a period of illness.

In a post on the restaurant’s facebook page today (Tuesday) the business states: “We are aware of an article currently circling around social media regarding our food hygiene standards.

“For a short period of time last year our standards began to slip and we have since taken measures to rectify the issues raised.

“We would like to thank our loyal customers for their continued support over a very difficult few years.

“Working alongside our local council, we have long since turned a corner and strive to keep up a high quality of service and most importantly, excellent food. We would like to reiterate our gratitude to all members of staff who have worked tirelessly to regain our high standards, and all customers who have supported us in recent times.”