Substantial fine for The Range after Somerset Council prosecution

Officers from Somerset Council first received a complaint in March 2022 regarding a severe rat infestation. This led to a long investigation over an 8-month period involving over 20 visits, which included issuing an Emergency Hygiene Prohibition Notice in August 2022 to prohibit the business selling food for human consumption.

The Notice was made into an Emergency Hygiene Prohibition Order by the Magistrates Court in September 2022. Then during monitoring visits made to the premises, it was found that food was being sold in contravention to the Order which could have caused an imminent risk to health.

During the investigation both pet and human food was found that had been gnawed, and packaging was seen to be damaged and contaminated by rats. Rat droppings were also found on shelves next to food in the shop area and warehouse. Rats can spread a number of serious illnesses to humans, such as E.coli, Weil’s Disease and Toxoplasmosis. The business failed to control the rat activity and act upon the advice given by the council and their contracted pest control company. The business also failed to protect food from contamination and keep the premises clean and maintained in a clean condition.

The Taunton superstore has been fined £640,000 after pleading guilty to food hygiene offences following a successful prosecution by Somerset Council. The business was ordered to pay £190 surcharge and £26,593 – the full cost to Somerset Council for taking this case to court.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, Lead Member for Communities, Housing and Culture said, “The fine imposed by the court recognises the significance of the rat infestation in the business and the potential this had to cause harm to human health. Environmental Health Officers across Somerset work hard to ensure food businesses are compliant with food safety legislation and will take enforcement action where necessary in line with the Somerset Council Enforcement Policy.”

Assurity Consulting are leading experts in workplace health, safety and environmental compliance. For more information on our services, and how we can help you, please contact us on tel. +44 (0)1403 269375 or email us