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Thursday, 18 December, 1997, 21:11 GMT
Dead mouse costs firm a lot of beans
A British firm has been fined 8,000 after a man found a mouse in a tin of baked beans.

Robert Howard, from Brockley, southeast London, was about to tuck into the beans when he spotted what he thought was a piece of string.

As he peered closer Mr Howard, who was eating straight from the tin, realised the `string' was in fact a mouse's tail. He recoiled in horror as he pulled out the rest of the dead rodent.

After the discovery he went to Lewisham Hospital saying he felt sick and feared he may be at risk of infection.

Nurses informed Lewisham Council's environmental health department, who performed the tests on the creature and the beans.

The mouse had been cooked in the tin produced by HL Foods of Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, who make own-brand baked beans for supermarket giant Sainsbury's.

HL Foods were charged under the Food Safety Act. After pleading guilty, they were fined 8,000.

Mr Howard is now considering suing HL Foods for damages.

But the company says its factory has been inspected by environmental health officers, who were "fully satisfied" with its procedures.

A Lewisham Council spokeswoman said: "Nobody knows for sure at what point of the process the mouse got in. The beans are sieved and blanched, tomato sauce is added and the tins are sealed and cooked at 130 degrees.

"The mouse's stomach was full of starch so it may have been eating the beans before it was boiled with the product."

More than 12,000 tins from the same batch were removed from supermarket shelves by the company.

HL Foods sales and marketing director Robin Brooks said the company processed more than four million cans a day. He said it was the first time such an incident had occurred.

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