The Range has been fined nearly £1 million for breaking food hygiene rules after rats were found gnawing on human and pet food.
WalesOnline reported that The Range in Taunton, Somerset, was fined £960,000, reduced to £640,000 for an early guilty plea, for food hygiene offences following a successful prosecution by Somerset Council.
The store faced investigations which discovered both pet and human food which had been gnawed, packaging was seen to be damaged and contaminated by rats as well as rat droppings on shelves next to food in the shop area and warehouse
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.
Guilty pleas were entered by CDS (Superstores International) Ltd, operating as The Range Home and Leisure at Hankridge, Taunton, for seven food hygiene offences in September 2023. The sentencing hearing was adjourned to December 4, where the fine was issued, and the business was ordered to pay £190 surcharge and £26,593 – the full cost to Somerset Council for taking this case to court.
Officers from Somerset Council first received a complaint in March 2022 regarding a severe rat infestation. This led to a long investigation over an eight-month period involving over 20 visits, which resulted in an Emergency Hygiene Prohibition Notice being served 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.
However, 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.