A DEAD rat was found in a Hereford dairy during a routine inspection which led to bottling being halted.

Rat droppings and bird faeces were also found at Bartonsham Farm Dairies, which were a clear risk to health.

Owner Paul Anthony Matthews of Hampton Park Road, Hereford, appeared at the city’s magistrates court yesterday (Wednesday) as Herefordshire Council’s prohibition notice was verified.

The council had asked for the notice, which stopped production at the dairy, after the initial visit on Tuesday, August 27, but a further visit on Sunday revealed significant work had been done to bring it up to standard.

Mr Matthews said he was on holiday at the time, and as the site is close to the river and fields there would always be a risk of rodents.

He admitted there was a dead rat at the dairy, but a deep clean of the bottling area had taken place and the building rodent-proofed.

He thanked his staff, who had worked around the clock.

During the period where production and bottling had been stopped, milk was bought in from other dairies at great cost, and disposing of milk had a significant impact on the business.

Magistrates ruled that at the time of the inspection there was a risk to health.

Mr Matthews apologised and was ordered to pay fines and legal expenses of £1067.66

Herefordshire Council’s assistant director of regulation, environment and waste, Marc Willimont, said the notice has now ceased and the dairy is fully operational.

“I can confirm that our environmental health officers worked with Bartonsham Farm Dairies over the weekend, to the point that the officers were of the opinion that the situation had improved and the food safety emergency prohibition notice could be lifted.

“The courts have signed a declaration that the health risk condition existed on August 27, 2019.

“The court hearing is a procedural issue within the legislation to verify the initial decision to serve the notice, and is required even when a notice has been withdrawn. So essentially the notice has ceased and the dairy is now fully operational.”

Last Wednesday, shops across Herefordshire were hit by milk shortages after the major supplier failed to make deliveries.

Milkmen and newsagents were told deliveries would not be made.