Contract catering giant Sodexo has defended the standards of hygiene at its newly acquired ICA café contract in London after it was reported that its former operator Peyton and Byrne was being prosecuted for eight health and safety breaches.
Sodexo acquired the ICA café contract along with the rest of Peyton and Byrne's public contracts at the National Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Imperial War Museum and the Wallace Collection, after the firm, founded by Oliver and Siobhan Peyton in 2005, went into administration in October.
The Daily Mail reported that the ICA cafe at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in Carlton House Terrace, off the Mall in London, was closed down in September 2015 after health inspectors discovered it was infested with mice.
Westminster Magistrates Court heard that mouse faeces had been found on trays used for sandwiches, on weighing scales, among olive oil bottles, and on top of boxes of ingredients including hazelnut paste, chestnuts and sugar cubes, according to the paper.
Peyton and Byrne appeared in court in relation to the case in September but had since entered administration without entering a plea.
In a statement, Sodexo moved to reassure customers of the café that under its management, hygiene standards were up to scratch.
Chris Bray, CEO Sports & Leisure, Sodexo UK & Ireland, told The Caterer: "It is not appropriate for us to comment on the Westminster County Council court case, but we feel it important to clarify the situation at the ICA café which was managed by Peyton and Byrne. As with all new contracts, we have carried out our routine health & safety and food safety audits at all the Peyton and Byrne contracts we now manage to ensure that they are compliant with our standards. We can confidently say that the Daily Mail article (30 November) in no way reflects the ICA café today, which received a four-star hygiene rating during its last inspection in March 2016. We would also like to state that the café has never had to close due to any health and safety breaches.
"We are delighted to have added the ICA and other Peyton and Byrne contracts to our portfolio and continue to work with the individual teams at each location to enable them to continue to deliver a high standard of service to our customers."
In a statement, Westminster Council said: "We are unable to comment on the case against Peyton and Byrne's The Bar at The ICA, given the court hearing is still pending and has been adjourned until 3 January."