Gunns Bakery fined more than £2k following serious mouse infestation at Sandy warehouse

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Gunns Bakery has been fined more than £2,000 after a shopper found a mouse dropping in a loaf of bread – leading to the council discovering a serious mouse infestation throughout its food storage and production areas.

The bakery, which has shops in Biggleswade and Sandy, was closed for over a month last year after the infestation was found at its manufacturing warehouse premises in Sandy – leading to contamination of food ingredients, packaging, equipment and surfaces.

Owner David Gunns called the situation “extremely regrettable” but told the Chronicle that there has been “no reocurrence of any issues” since the business reopened in May 2023.

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Mr Gunns said: "About a year and a half ago, we had a problem at the bakery in Sandy. We needed to close for a period, but were able to continue baking at our other sites.

Dead mice and droppings were found at the Gunns Bakery warehouseDead mice and droppings were found at the Gunns Bakery warehouse
Dead mice and droppings were found at the Gunns Bakery warehouse

"Subsequently, the bakery reopened after a few weeks and we have had no reoccurrence of any issues since. It was a high-pressure period, with primarily myself baking all the bread, and is extremely regrettable."

The infestation came to light after a member of the public complained to the council after finding a mouse dropping in a loaf of bread.

Central Bedfordshire Council environmental health officers inspected the warehouse in February 2023 – finding dead mice, mouse droppings and gnawed food packaging, as well as dirty floors, walls and hand contact points, contaminated containers, work surfaces and food equipment.

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Mr Gunns was informed of the complaint and asked about any mouse issues in the unit. He confirmed that the problem had existed for around three weeks.

Although he had contacted two pest control companies, only one visited the premises, and no treatment was performed; they only provided advice.

Due to the severity of the infestation, a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served on the business and Mr Gunns in 2023 – forcing the business to close immediately.

The bakery remained closed for over a month but was allowed to reopen in May 2023 after a pest control company eradicated the mouse infestation and the premises underwent thorough cleaning.

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During a subsequent inspection in April 2023, four Hygiene Improvement Notices were served on Mr Gunns.

In May 2024, Mr Gunns pleaded guilty to seven food safety offences at Luton Magistrates’ Court. Due to the seriousness of the offences, the case was referred to Luton Crown Court for sentencing on June 7. Mr Gunns was fined £2,100, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £840 and pay a contribution towards costs of £4,900.

According to the Food Standards Agency website, the Sandy bakery was last inspected in June 2023, when it was handed a rating of 2 - improvement necessary. It was rated good for hygienic food handling and management of food safety, but improvement necessary for cleanliness and condition of facilities and building.

The Biggleswade bakery was last inspected in October 2023. It was rated generally satisfactory for hygienic food handling and cleanliness of facilities and building, but good for management of food safety, with an overall score of 3 - generally satisfactory.

Anyone concerned about food that they have purchased from a shop, restaurant, café or a takeaway can be reported to the council by visiting their website or calling 0300 300 8302.

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