A well-known bakery has been fined £1,000 after a whole mouse was found in a loaf of bread.
North Antrim Magistrates Court heard how a Ballymoney man purchased a Hyndman’s malt loaf from a supermarket just |before Christmas in 2007.
When he unwrapped the loaf he discovered the rodent in the base of the bread and he contacted the Environmental Health Officer at Ballymoney Borough Council.
Jean Hyndman, managing director of D Hyndman and Son Ltd, was present in court to answer a charge of placing unsafe food on the market.
Prosecuting counsel showed District Judge Richard Wilson pictures of the mouse in the loaf.
The court heard that tins in which the bread is baked were oiled the night before they were filled with dough.
Some time between the tins being sprayed and being filled the mouse entered the tin, said the prosecuting solicitor.
“In fairness to the defendant they have engaged pest control services who regularly inspect the premises, and did so before this incident,” she said.
A defence lawyer said an |“onerous inspection” is held at the bakery every six weeks and that two field biologists attend each year.
There are 131 bait stations in the premises at present, he added.
He said staff carry out daily inspections and two full-time cleaners are employed at the bakery who both work eight hours a day.
“The defendant has been in business for 60 years and in that time there has never been any previous complaints,” he said.
"The defendant is a good baker."
The defence lawyer said the last inspection to be carried out at the site prior to the mouse being found was done so on December 18, 2007.
“The complaint came as a shock to the defendant when she learnt what had happened,” he said.
The defence lawyer said it had been too “prohibitive” to discover whether the mouse had been dead or alive prior to baking.
He asked the judge to bear in mind the possibility that the mouse may have been deliberately placed inside the tin as a form of sabotage by someone.
Since the incident, he said all baking tins were oiled and inverted on the day on which the bread was to be baked.
“The defendant is at a loss as to how the mouse was present,” he said.
“In the present economic climate, times are tough and is a diligent and responsible baker.”
The defending lawyer confirmed that the person who bought the loaf is currently pursuing a civil claim against the firm.
The court heard the defendant had no previous convictions or any complaints against them regarding rodents.
District Judge Wilson said the case reminded him of a House of Lords case in the 1930s which he had studied for law exams.
It involved a snail being found in a bottle of ginger beer.
“I trust this won’t end up in the House of Lords.” he said.
He added: “I have to take into consideration the concern the public must have.
“I am also taking into account the steps the company appear to be taking (regarding hygiene).”
He imposed a fine of £1,000 and ordered the defendant to pay a total of £409.75 in fees and costs. He said the fine was just £1,000 as opposed to the maximum of £20,000 for the offence, as |the defendant had no previous convictions.