Court shuts down home BBQ food business

A man who was skinning and butchering wild game in his garden for his barbecue grill event business, has been ordered to cease trading by Swindon magistrates.

Published: Friday, 17th November 2023

Food business at home address shut down

Ionut Adrian Apetroaie’s home in Marigold Close, Haydon Wick, was visited by Swindon Borough Council’s Environmental Health team and Wiltshire Police’s Rural Crime Team on 6 October following reports of him using his home as a food business premises without notifying the Council, as is legally required.

Officers found evidence that a business under the name of ‘Romeat’ was being run from the address.

Sausages, Kofte and burgers were being made on site but there was no suitable hygienic areas in which to safely produce the food or store the equipment. Much of the equipment was stored in a breeze block garage alongside DIY tools and assorted domestic items.

Skinning and butchering deer, pheasants, rabbits and wild boar had also been taking place in the garden of the address as part of the business, with the carcasses being hung from a pull-up bar to ease the process. Such activities can only take place in a suitably hygienic environment.

Council officers also found no food safety management systems in place. These should have enabled the operator to identify the risks to food and determine appropriate controls and procedures needed to produce food safely.

Some activities considered high risk such as vacuum packing and smoking had taken place without the required controls in place. Products found at the address had non-compliant labels or no labels. The traceability information for food on site was poor or non-existent.

Officers also found that some foods had been out of temperature control since the early hours of the morning, and there was no empty refrigerated storage space in which to store them. Waste and animal by products from the business had been put into the domestic black bin, against requirements.

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served on Mr Apetroaie to prevent the business operating and officers seized between 200 and 300kg of meat, meat preparations and other foods from the address.

On Tuesday (14 Nov), magistrates at Swindon Magistrates Court, supported the action taken by the Council’s Environmental Health team by signing a declaration that the closure was proportionate in the circumstances.

An application was also granted to extent the closure to prevent further food activities taking place at the address, until such time that Environmental Health is satisfied there is no longer a risk to health. Magistrates also upheld an application for all the seized food to be condemned for destruction because it had not been produced in accordance with the hygiene requirements.

Mr Apetroaie did not agree with all the points raised by the Council at the hearing, but did not contest the overall actions taken. He has informed Environmental Health that he hopes to start a different lower risk food business in the future but only after it has been deemed compliant.

He was ordered to pay the Council’s legal costs of £3,854.50, including £626.50 relating to the seizure and destruction of the food.

A criminal investigation into the prior activities of the business is also being carried out by the Council.

Councillor Jim Grant, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Joint Working, said: “The conditions and practices our officers found at this individual’s home address were appalling and show a blatant disregard for the regulations which are there to ensure food is being prepared in a safe and compliant manner.

“I hope this case shows the public that if we receive reports that someone is not complying with the regulations and is potentially putting the health of people at risk, we will take action.

“If you are thinking of starting a food business, it is a legal requirement to register it with the Council before you begin trading, and to ensure the business is compliant with food hygiene and food standards requirements. Further information is available on the Council’s website.”

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