Two people have been given suspended prison sentences for their roles in food safety breaches by a seafood company in Wales.

Colin James Brown and Donna Brown, who ran Shores Seafood in Monkton, Pembroke, are also prohibited from managing a food business indefinitely.

Colin Brown was sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for two years, and 200 hours of unpaid work. Donna Brown was given six months in prison suspended for two years and 15 days of rehabilitation activity. The prosecution was brought by Pembrokeshire County Council.

Sentencing took place at Swansea Crown Court in late March, after the couple pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to four offenses.

These were failing to take action to protect food from the risk of contamination; placing unsafe food on the market; failing to comply with a Remedial Action Notice and operating the business without approval after permission to supply seafood was suspended.

Listeria issues
The court heard that offenses occurred over a period of time when the business, which sold dressed crabs and lobsters, was found to have produced foods contaminated with high levels of Listeria monocytogenes.

Officers tried to help the business identify potential sources of bacterial contamination and ensure the implementation of food safety management plans, according to the council. However, the firm’s approval to supply seafood to other businesses was suspended in April 2021 due to concerns over the ability to provide safe food.

The council also halted production after it judged the business was not able to implement the necessary controls on an ongoing basis, and without continued intervention.

However, in July 2021 the council became aware that Shores Seafood was continuing to supply products to local food premises in Pembrokeshire and further afield, in breach of enforcement notices. Environmental health officers then contacted supplied businesses and removed products from the market.

A product recall alert was issued by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the same month, as a result of information from Pembrokeshire County Council, to ensure that no products remained on sale.

Shores Seafood recalled all cooked seafood (fresh and frozen crabs and lobsters) because it was handled at a site without the necessary approval. This means products did not meet food safety requirements and were deemed unfit for human consumption.

Health risk and suspension breached
Judge Geraint Walters said the local authority was engaged in a cat-and-mouse operation with the business. He also expressed concern at the high levels of Listeria monocytogenes in products and added that food hygiene is not trivial but is important to protect public health.

Michelle Bateman, from Pembrokeshire County Council, said it was determined to ensure people who commit serious offenses or display a blasé approach to complying with food safety and standards requirements are brought to justice.

“It is reassuring to see the court has imposed significant sentences, including the prohibition on managing a food business in the future, on the two people who deliberately continued to run this business despite being subject to notices served by officers of the council to protect the safety of consumers,” she said.

“The offenders had a flagrant disregard for the health of any person who ate their products, despite being aware of the history of contamination of their products with Listeria monocytogenes. They also disregarded the prohibitions placed on them by the authority and had inadequate controls in place to prevent products from being contaminated with this highly concerning bacteria.”

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