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School catering company admit offences in out of court settlement over food safety violations

21 December 2023

A mouse entering a hole in a skirting board

ABM which provides catering services for Greens Norton CE Primary School near Towcester has agreed to pay full council fees, in lieu of a legal trial after admitting guilt for failing to follow food hygiene law, following a visit from West Northamptonshire Council Health Protection Officers in 2018.

West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) and ABM Catering Ltd based in Warwickshire have come to an out of court settlement, with ABM being served with a simple caution – which is an admission of guilt on four offences – and agreed to pay full council costs, in lieu of a legal trial.

Health Protection Officers from WNC (previously South Northants Council) visited the primary school following complaints from parents about reported mice sightings in summer 2018. The officers found evidence of a widespread mouse infestation in the school kitchen which was being used to prepare and serve food for children.

It was found that ABM were made aware of the infestation a month prior to the health protection visit, however continued to trade. WNC sought prosecution of ABM on four offences relating to the failure to ensure a safe environment for food preparation, failure to comply with food hygiene standards and failure to implement adequate pest control procedures, alongside failing to register their business.

Despite ABM launching a legal challenge against the council, the court ruled in favour of WNC to dismiss these challenges which resulted in the catering company putting forward an out of court settlement offer.

We are determined to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of the children in our schools. It is unacceptable that ABM put the health of our children at risk by continuing to serve them food after being made aware of a mouse infestation.

I am pleased to hear that the Councils actions were validated by the court and the company then admitted to the offences and put forward the offer of settling out of court.
Cllr David Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, Engagement and Regulatory Services at WNC
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