THE caterer for a Walthamstow primary school was fined £40,000 after “ingrained dirt and mouse droppings” were found in the school’s kitchen.

Food hygiene inspectors from Waltham Forest Council visited St Saviour’s Church of England Primary School in Verulam Avenue in October 2020.

They found mouse droppings on the floor, inside machinery and on a shelf.

A chef also showed them a report from four months earlier which began “mice?” but had not been acted upon.

Both the school’s multi-academy trust Genesis and its caterer The Pantry admitted to breaching food hygiene violations at Thames Magistrates Court on Tuesday, although Genesis will be sentenced at a later date.

Ordering The Pantry to pay £41,478, magistrates’ bench chair Sharon Higgins said she and her colleagues had placed the offences in the worst category of hygiene breaches.

She said: “This is a situation where there was ingrained dirt and mouse droppings which had not been monitored properly

“It was a vulnerable client group and there was a lack of systems for food preparation, which was really poor in the circumstances.”

The Pantry’s head of operations Anthony Swaby told magistrates the infestation was “terrible” but that the company had “accepted responsibility”.

He added: “It is worth saying the concerns were reported to Genesis and not actioned.

“The responsibility of the pest control is contractually not The Pantry’s responsibility, but we should have highlighted it at the time, there’s nothing much to say to excuse that.

“The business has a small margin and it’s all to be put back into the community.” 

A lawyer for Genesis requested the trust be sentenced at a later date, as it needed more time for a statement from its chief financial officer to help with deciding the fine at sentencing.

Both Genesis Education Trust and The Pantry admitted two counts of failing to comply with EU provisions concerning food safety and hygiene.

Genesis is an ‘independent church multi academy trust’ that also manages St Mary’s Primary School, Walthamstow, and St Margaret’s, Barking.

The Pantry was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £1,478. Genesis will be sentenced at a date that has not yet been fixed.