Eagle Pub prosecuted over poor food standards

Jen Mills – Deputy News Editor 22 October 2009

The owner of Benet Street’s famous Eagle Pub, brewery corporation Greene King, is to be prosecuted by Cambridge City Council for alleged poor food hygiene standards. Greene King, facing 15 charges, will appear before magistrates today for a pre-trial hearing.

The charges, all of which relate to May 2008, include accusations that the firm did not provide soap for customers to wash their hands with in the pub’s bathrooms, and that the equipment used to prepare food was not sufficiently cleaned or disinfected. As well as this the firm is accused of leaving windows open allowing flies to enter and failing to store raw meat in hygienic conditions.

Greene King has entered ‘not guilty’ pleas.

The firm, based in Bury St Edmunds, owns over 1200 pubs and has faced criticism in the past for anti-competitive behaviour after it bought and closed three traditional breweries – Morlands, Ridleys and Hardys and Hansons.It recently announced a three year sponsorship of Cambridge United football club. The club said on their website of the deal with Greene King that they were excited to work with a company ‘as passionate about quality ale as they are about customer service’.

The Eagle is famous for being the place Watson and Crick announced their discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, and for the names and messages burnt onto its ceiling with candles by air force servicemen during the Second World War. It is a part of Cambridge’s heritage, dating back to Tudor times when it served as a coaching inn in the 17th Century. Popular among students and tourists alike, it was named Bargain Food Pub of the Year in 1999 by the Good Pub Guide.

Shaun Stairs, a first year Chemistry PhD student, said of the allegations, ‘It’s shocking if they are true. You’d expect a pub of The Eagle’s fame and popularity to adhere to such basic hygiene practises’.

The manager of The Eagle was unavailable for comment.

Jen Mills – Deputy News Editor