Sainsbury’s faces mice urine claims

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SUPERMARKET giant Sainsbury’s faces court action over claims that droppings and urine from mice had contaminated shelving in one of its Edinburgh stores.

The food company’s store in Craigleith Road is the subject of a case which was called yesterday afternoon at the city’s sheriff court.

Crown Office lawyers have taken Sainsbury’s to court alleging that mice had infested the shop and made certain foods there unfit for human consumption in February 2011.

Prosecution briefs allege that food for sale at the shop had markings on the package that suggested that it had been chewed and gnawed open. The business faces four charges under food safety laws.

No lawyer for Sainsbury’s was present for the hearing yesterday, which took just one minute to complete.

Depute fiscal Anna Murphy asked Sheriff Frank Crowe for the case to be continued without plea for another month.

Sheriff Crowe agreed, and the court’s clerk set the date for the next hearing of the case on January 18, 2012.

On the complaint that was presented to Sheriff Crowe, Sainsbury’s provided its address as its company HQ in Holburn, London.

The first charge alleges that on February 10, 2011, the company failed to provide any protection to food to prevent it becoming unfit for human consumption.

The allegation then states that packaging on the food displayed for purchase bore markings consistent with it being chewed by mice. The charge alleges that this was contrary to the Food Hygiene Scotland Regulations 2006.

The second charge states that on February 10, 2011, the supermarket did place unsafe food on the market – the packaging was allegedly “gnawed” open by mice.

This is said to have contravened the 2004 General Food Regulations, the Food Safety Act 1990 and the European Community Act 1972.

The third charge alleges that Sainsbury’s failed to maintain good hygiene at the store and that mice droppings and trails of mice urine were present on shelving for dry food stuffs.

Prosecutors argue that this breaks the terms of the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006 and the European Community Act 1972.

The final charge alleges that on the same date there was no hot running water at wash hand basins located at the store’s deli, bakery, hot food and butchery counters.

No plea has been entered. It is expected that Sainsbury’s will have legal representation at the next hearing.