Uxbridge caterer must pay more than £60,000 and receives suspended prison sentence after listeria found in sandwiches

Tuesday 27 September 2022: A sandwich business and its owner that seriously breached food hygiene regulations have been ordered to pay a total of £61,343 at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 13 September following a successful prosecution by Hillingdon Council's food health and safety team.

Photo of unclean food preparation area
Perfect Bite Limited, of Units 8 and 9 Gazelle Buildings, Wallingford Road, Uxbridge was ordered to pay a fine of £37,500, a victim surcharge of £181 and £11,767 in legal costs. Its owner Muhammed Akram was also ordered to pay legal costs of £11,767, together with a victim surcharge of £128 and received a 16-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. Akram must also complete 100 hours of unpaid work as part of his sentence.

Perfect Bite and Akram, as its owner, were found guilty of failing to put in place, implement and maintain food hygiene procedures, failing to ensure that food handlers were supervised and instructed and/or trained in their work, neglecting to keep floors and walls well maintained so that they could be easily cleaned and disinfected, and failing to ensure that all articles, fittings and equipment with which food comes into contact were effectively cleaned and, where necessary, disinfected.

At his hearing, Akram was also banned from running a food business again, after his company was found to have significant food hygiene failings which led to listeria being discovered in samples taken from chicken, egg and sausage sandwiches. Listeria is a bacteria found on contaminated food which can cause serious illness to pregnant women, people aged over 65 and people with weakened immune systems.

Perfect Bite, which produced and distributed sandwiches to independent convenience stores across London, was investigated by the council between July 2021 and February 2022 and judged to have a "chaotic" food safety management system that saw frozen chicken being left to thaw in fridges for up to three weeks and being labelled with incorrect 'use by' dates. 

Many out-of-date sandwich fillers were given extended shelf life - of up to 19 days on one occasion - and food containers and cleaning equipment were unclean.

The court heard that Hillingdon's inspectors found no evidence of any hygiene training among staff and basic measures such as temperature checks were not being carried out correctly. Staff used higher concentrations of chemicals than necessary to wash salad, which they said would "kill bacteria quickly", before drying it in a dirty salad spinner.

The building that Perfect Bite operated from was also found to be in poor condition, with exposed brickwork in places, along with peeling paint and cobwebs in others. A car tyre was also found in a food preparation area on one occasion.

Cllr Eddie Lavery, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Residents' Services, said: "It's shocking to think that Perfect Bite was supplying sandwiches to the public with fillings that were dangerously out of date, in an unclean environment, that were also prepared by staff who were clueless about food hygiene.

"Had it not been for the diligent work of our food safety team to thoroughly investigate the business and build a case against Akram, it was only a matter of time before a member of the public became seriously ill (or worse) from eating food produced by Perfect Bite."

Following the hearing, Hillingdon's environmental health officers will visit the business to check that hygiene standards have improved.

Page last updated: 15 Feb 2024