Mussel firm fined for minor breach of food regulations

A well-known mussel company which failed to comply properly with food regulations has been fined £1,750.

Blueshell Mussels admitted some of its registration documents were either not properly filled in or were missing altogether when environmental health officers visited its Brae premises in June 2009.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard today that management at Blueshell had not enjoyed the most “harmonious” of relationships with the council’s environmental health department.

Environment officials believed Blueshell had breached protocol issued by Food Standards Agency Scotland – although Blueshell disagreed with that interpretation.

The company was visited by environment officials on 3rd June, who found some registration documents were either missing or incomplete.

A follow-up visit was made later in the month, when the registration document file was removed for inspection.

Three documents were missing from mussel batches which had been delivered to the factory from growing sites during November 2008 and May 2009. Other documents were left blank or had inaccurate information.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said the relationship between environmental health and Blueshell was now “much improved” and that it was unlikely there would be any further difficulties.

Defence agent Denis Yule said Blueshell was a major employer and a profitable business, with 30 people working there. It was formed in 1997.

He said the company had won various awards for the quality of its produce. It produced 2,500 tonnes of mussels a year.

Since the matter came to light the company has employed a full-time quality control manager.

It has since received approval from environmental health to produce scallops and whitefish as well as mussels.

The company has also gained approval to supply supermarkets with its produce.

Sheriff Graeme Napier noted that the company made a profit last year of just under £1 million, although he was surprised it had spent over £800,000 on administration costs.

Mr Yule added: “They are extremely distressed about the fact their records have been found wanting. It is unlikely this kind of thing will happen again.”


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