Man banned from running food business after joint investigation

A Bedale man has been banned from running a food business for the next 20 years after pleading guilty to animal welfare offences as a result of a joint prosecution by North Yorkshire County Council and Hambleton District Council.

Ian Lancaster, aged 51, of Carthorpe, Bedale, North Yorkshire was sentenced at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court having pleaded guilty to offences relating to animal welfare, failure to dispose of animal by-products and food hygiene at earlier hearings.

He was disqualified from keeping livestock under the Animal Welfare Act and prohibited from managing a food business for 20 years and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs – £500 to the district council and £500 to the county council.

The offences came to light after an effective investigation by environmental health and trading standards teams from the district and county councils. Officers from both authorities inspected Lancaster’s premises and found he was engaged in illegal slaughtering and dressing meat in unhygienic and unsatisfactory conditions.

Officers found seven pigs and sheep which, according to expert veterinary opinion, were being caused unnecessary suffering by failure to provide proper treatment for conditions – including a fractured forelimb and chronically infected feet. Mr Lancaster had also failed to dispose of animal by-products such as bones and carcases in an approved manner.

Following the inspection, a Food Condemnation Order was granted by Northallerton Magistrates Court for two pallets and four chest freezers of various cuts and joints of meat and ready to eat meats, which were deemed unfit for human consumption.

District Judge Lower sentenced Mr Lancaster to a conditional discharge in addition to the disqualification and prohibition orders and told him; “In making the orders, you understand that if you breach them you will be prosecuted and will be unlikely to be treated as leniently.”

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, Executive Member for Trading Standards said; “The conditions found at these premises were appalling and I am pleased to see that effective partnership working between county council and Hambleton District Council officers has safeguarded the public of North Yorkshire and has prevented further risks to the welfare of livestock.”

Hambleton District Council Director, Mick Jewitt, added: “Animal and food regulations are there to protect the public and the success of this court case vindicates the work we did as a council to prove that Mr Lancaster was in breach of these regulations.

“It is a massive victory for the council – this man allowed animals to suffer and put the public at risk. He has been banned from operating a food business – and the people who were unwittingly buying meat from his premises are safe in the knowledge that he cannot trade any longer.

“His practices were disgraceful – even the most hardened members of our environmental health team, who are used to inspecting very unpleasant environments, were shocked to the core by what they saw at Mr Lancaster’s farm. Not only was the slaughterhouse illegal in its operation but the conditions within it were cruel and inhumane – no animal should be subject to the treatment they were receiving. And the meat being sold on to customers was unfit for consumption – it was only by luck that we didn’t face a major food poisoning incident.

“All businesses need to be aware that Hambleton District Council will actively pursue all cases like this and get the convictions needed to cease dangerous and illegal operations.”