A FATHER making sandwiches for his children was disgusted to find a dead mouse baked into his loaf.

Stephen Forse, from Kidlington, thought the bread was just discoloured but on closer inspection saw the object was covered in fur — and says one of his family may have accidentally eaten the tail.

He bought the Hovis Best of Both bread online from Tesco, which was packed and delivered by the store in Pingle Drive, Bicester in January 2009, Cherwell District Council said.

Following an investigation council health officers, makers Premier Foods were ordered to pay £16,821.14 at Oxford Crown Court on Friday.

Father-of-two Mr Forse, from Waverley Avenue, said he had already used a few of the slices when he came to make sandwiches for his children and their friends.

He said: "I noticed a dark coloured object imbedded in the corner of three or four slices.

"Initially I thought it was where the dough had not mixed properly prior to baking. As I looked closer I saw that the object had fur on it.

"I continued to prepare some sandwiches for the children from another loaf of bread that was in the fridge, checking carefully each slice in turn as I still felt quite shaken.

“As I was feeling ill I couldn't face eating anything myself. I sat with the children as they ate theirs.

"My six-year-old daughter actually commented at one point 'why aren't you eating anything daddy?' to which I just replied that I wasn't hungry."

Council officers noted that the mouse did not have a tail.

Mr Forse added: “Her comments made me feel ill once again as there was no indication as to where the tail was.

"Had it fallen off prior to the bread being wrapped or had any of my family eaten it with another slice of bread on a previous day?"

Premier Foods pleaded guilty to failing to ensure all stages of food production were protected against contamination and failing to maintain a robust pest management system at its British Bakeries site in Mitcham, London.

It was passed to Oxford Crown Court by Banbury Magistrates' Court after justices decided their powers of sentencing would not be sufficient.

Council technical officer Aileen Smith said: "Mice harbour disease, particularly salmonella which can result in severe diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and can be fatal to children, the elderly or those with a compromised immune system."

Council vice chairman George Reynolds added: "We just cannot tolerate sloppy standards when people's health is concerned.

“I cannot imagine what this must have been like for Mr Forse and his family but I am thankful, at least, that their health appears not to have been affected.”

Tesco declined to comment.

A Premier Foods spokesman said: “We apologise profusely for the distress caused as a result of this isolated incident.”

He said production was stopped when the firm was told of the find and there had been a ‘thorough investigation’.

He said: “There was no evidence of mice within the bakery and no history of any similar issues.”