I was in a supermarket the other day and saw a young woman creased over a run of chilled cabinets, coughing. I thought she would never stop. In fact, I expected to see at least one lung pop out any second and land on the WeightWatchers ready meals. Then she moved on to cough on the pizzas.

I thought blimey, if an environmental health officer caught a retailer doing that he’d be closed down by now. Yes, the stuff was wrapped but the germs will still stick to the packaging.

The following day I had a call from a regular contributor to this column with his various tips and winks… but this time he remains anonymous.
An EHO had arrived to do a spot check on our retailer’s store. He was able to show her his record of regular temperature checks (he has double-figure freezers/chillers), but his daily hygiene check record had not been kept up since last September when his wife had developed arthritis, leaving him with a bigger workload.

He tried to reason with the EHO, saying he hadn’t ticked the boxes every day because there was nothing to tick. Not good enough.

As a consequence (and he thinks she would have gone away satisfied if only he had ticked the ruddy boxes) she spent three hours with her fine-toothed comb, on her hands and knees at times, looking under shelves and cupboards. She didn’t really find anything wrong other than some damaged vinyl tiles that will cost him £900 to replace.

Upshot is he was served with a non-compliance notice and told that, next time, she would see him in court.

He tried to point out that he doesn’t even handle open food, but she said: “It’s still food.”