A BUTCHER has been fined £9,000 for risking meat contamination.

The Butchery at Grove Ltd, at 4 Millbrook Square, admitted failing to keep premises clean and in good condition.

It also admitted failing to comply with food safety procedures; failing to ensure food was protected against contamination and failing to ensure food handlers were supervised and instructed.

Representatives from the company answered pleaded guilty to all four charges at Oxford Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

Magistrates heard how, during a routine inspection on November 18 last year, environmental health officers from Vale of White Horse District Council found the butchery was using the same vacuum packing machine to wrap both raw and ready-to-eat meats, resulting in a risk that meat could be contaminated and unfit for human consumption.

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served to immediately stop this from happening.

In sentencing, magistrates took into account the fact that at the time it was a fledgling business, had cooperated fully with the council’s officers and had submitted an early guilty plea.

As a result, the butchery received a substantially reduced fine of £9,000.

It also had to pay £4,764.27 legal costs and a £170 victim surcharge.

The company bought a new vacuum packer for ready-to-eat products but later decided to stop selling cooked meat.

It was re-inspected this year and recieved a food hygiene rating of three out of five.

Vale of White Horse cabinet member for environmental health Elaine Ware said: "This was a serious case where food safety procedures weren’t being followed and there was a genuine risk that people could end up buying contaminated meat.

"It is absolutely vital that everyone involved in the preparation and sale of food follows these guidelines to help ensure the safety of customers."