THE owner of a free-range egg packing station has been fined more than £4,000 for food hygiene offences at his former premises.

Euros Havard-Evans, 52, of Pennsylvania Farm Free Range Eggs, appeared before a judge at Haverfordwest magistrates court last week.

He pleaded guilty to a failure to ensure that the layout, design, construction, siting and size of the food premises permitted good food hygiene practices, including protection against contamination and, in particular, pest control (in May 2012) and a failure to ensure that his premises were kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition (in both May 2012 and February 2013).

District Judge David Parsons fined Havard-Evans £1,080 per charge and ordered him to pay £1,200 costs and a victim surcharge of £108, totalling £4,548.

The business has since been relocated to Crundale, and now has the top rating of five under the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

The court heard that following a complaint in May 2012, officers from Pembrokeshire County Council’s Public Protection Division visited the premises.

They found evidence of significant pest proofing issues within the packing station and rat holes in store rooms.

The floors, walls and ceiling in the packing station were extremely dirty and there was evidence of dead insects found on the floor, the court heard.

The rough concrete floor covering in the wash up room was impossible to maintain in a clean condition and the wooden wall coverings in the wash up room and the painted wall finish in the packing room were smeared and dirty and could not be maintained in a clean condition.

After the hearing, the council’s cabinet member for environmental and regulatory services, Cllr Huw George, said: “All food businesses, including activities such as packing stations, must take all necessary measures to protect food from contamination risks.

“The public are not there to see the hygiene standards at the premises and rely on the integrity of the business and the local authority to ensure its regulation, so that the public are protected.

In a statement following the case, Euros and Vanessa Havard-Evans, said the business' previous premises was difficult to maintain to the standards required and that was the reason behind the move to a new building.

They added: "Health issues and other pressures in the family contributed to the lateness in complying with Environmental Health. The business did is best to comply and co-operate with the authority at every stage and regret the decision to prosecute."

The couple underlined the fact that the company now has a top level five rating and added: "Of the 15m eggs that have been sold by the business over the past 10 years not one has caused any ill health."