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Fishmonger’s jibe at Southend Council health officers
A BUSINESS raided by environmental health has put a tongue-in-cheek message to customers outside.
Leigh fisherman Richard Eves, who runs Leigh Fishermans Co-operative, was caught with 400 untreated oysters in a fridge at his shop in Bell Wharf when it was visited by Southend Council.
Mr Eves was summoned to appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court accused of having oysters which were not fit for public consumption.
However, he denied the claims and said he had no intention of selling the shellfish and they were just a small sample he had taken to measure their size and weight.
He said they had been kept separately and were going to be put back into the sea.
He was ordered to pay for the destruction of the oysters under the Food Safety Act 1990.
After the raid, a chalkboard advertising the shop’s fresh fish deals was changed to include the message “Fresh local illegal oysters”.
Mr Eves said: “We have got nothing to hide, we haven’t done anything wrong. We are not criminals, we are not illegally gathering things. It has been blown out of proportion. They are trying to make an example of someone.
“They have caused all these problems and cost the taxpayers money. There were about 30kgs ,which would have been worth £27.”
Health officers maintain he should not have kept the oysters in an untreated state for two days.
Last week the Echo highlighted serious concerns that gangs of oyster pickers from the Chinese community working in Southend could lead to some unsafe oysters entering the food chain.
Concerns were also raised that authorities are turning a blind eye to the gangs in order to rid the estuary of prolific Pacific oysters which have decimated native species as well as other shellfish like the blue mussel, Tony Cox, the Tory councillor responsible for public protection, said he was reassured by the officers’ actions.
He said: “I suppose it is a local humour, but at the end of the day the Environmental Health service do a fantastic job and are continuing to uphold standards.”
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