'Deceitful' Download Festival vendor banned after selling unhygienic tacos to rock fans

A man caught putting Download festival-goers’ health at risk by serving them tacos from a dirty van has been banned from running a food businesses. Daniel Donovan had his Taco Shed located in the main arena at the Castle Donington event in June 2018, where he planned to sell food to the 70,000 people attending. But on the first day of the festival, after the 31-year-old had been selling tacos for a short time, food safety inspectors from North West Leicestershire District Council visited Donovan at his van, and became concerned about the hygiene standards and the likelihood of a customer falling ill.

The inspectors found that as well as failing to keep the cooked meat and rice at safe temperatures, Donovan’s food truck failed to meet hygiene standards. Donovan voluntarily closed the business, and festival organisers told him not to open again. The officials’ plan had been to caution and fine Donovan, but he ended up being prosecuted by the council after being “deceitful” and “obstructive” to the environmental health team trying to deal with him.

Daniel Donovan

He gave the council inspectors inaccurate information about himself and his food business that led to a prosecution being launched against the wrong company initially.

After he was identified as the person responsible for the Taco Shed, he twice failed to show up for court hearings and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He first appeared at Leicester Magistrates’ Court earlier this month and pleaded guilty to nine hygiene offences before returning today for sentencing, 19 months after the offences took place on June 8, 2018. Davinder Chohan, prosecuting on behalf of the council, told the court: “The Taco Shed was inspected on June 8, 2018, by North West Leicestershire District Council and the officers raised concerns.

“Rules and regulations were not being followed.

'Deceitful' Download Festival vendor banned after selling unhygienic tacos to rock fansAn arrest warrant was issued for the owner of the unhygienic Download Festival taco van

“They decided they would give Mr Donovan a caution and a fine. But he was very elusive. He was doing the same thing with other authorities, and he was not co-operating with them.

“Initially Mr Donovan provided information for a company that is not his own, and when it was realised they were not involved the case against them was dropped. “The first time Mr Donovan attended court was two weeks ago. It was only on this last occasion Mr Donovan first provided his legitimate address.”

'Deceitful' Download Festival vendor banned after selling unhygienic tacos to rock fansSour Cream left out in the June heat

Julie Smith, the health inspection team leader from the council, told the court: “This has been an obstructed investigation.

He’s been deceitful and demonstrated he’s not a fit and proper person to manage a food business.” The nine offences against the Food Safety Hygiene Regulations that Donovan, of Southlands Way, Congresbury, Bristol, pleaded guilty to were:

  • Selling food that was unsafe
  • Failing to keep the premises in good repair to avoid contamination by animals
  • Storing rice at at a temperature likely to cause pathogen growth
  • Storing cooked chicken and pork at a temperature likely to cause pathogen growth
  • Failing to provide hand washing and drying facilities
  • Failing to have facilities to wash cooking utensils
  • Not having hygienic storage
  • Failing to train staff in food hygiene matters
  • Having no procedures based on a hazard analysis to ensure food safety

'Deceitful' Download Festival vendor banned after selling unhygienic tacos to rock fansRice was not stored at the correct temperature

Donovan, who represented himself in court, said his business, Street Food Life, was now registered properly with Bristol City Council and had a full, five-star rating with the council. He said he no longer owned the Taco Shed.

He said: “My registered council are more than happy with my food standards. The authority has the right to come and inspect my premises at any time. “My staff are well-trained and I’m insured.”

He told the magistrates he had explained, in a document he had handed in to the court, why standards had “dropped” at the time of the festival. Donovan was interrupted by the chairman of the bench, Hazel Godrich, who told him: “They didn’t drop – they were appalling. “You had a manager who didn’t appear to have a clue what he was doing either.”

Donovan replied: “It was a huge learning curve. We have to take risks on people.” The Taco Shed was discovered to have insufficient facilities to maintain personal hygiene in terms of hand washing, Leicester magistrates were told at a hearing in August.

In addition, Donovan did not have sufficient disinfectant for cleaning cooking utensils, and failed to keep the Taco Shed clean and maintained in good repair to avoid the risk of contamination by animals and pests. Donovan was given a hygiene prohibition order banning him from being involved in the management of any food business until a further order is made. He was also fined GBP4,500 and ordered to pay GBP1,749 court costs and a GBP50 victim surcharge.

He was ordered to pay the full sum within 28 days.

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