A WORKER who spent 17 years at a bakery has been sacked for eating a tiny piece of nut from a production line.

Susan Longworth said she was told that her actions amounted to theft and she was dismissed with immediate effect.

Mrs Longworth, aged 54, of Brentwood Drive, Farnworth, worked at Park Cakes in Bella Street, Daubhill, until she was sacked on Monday following an incident on Friday, May 14.

Her job that day was to put pieces of nut on to toffee and hazelnut cakes, and she was talking with colleagues waiting for the next batch of cakes to arrive when she popped a small chunk of hazelnut into her mouth.

She was spotted by a manager, who came over to ask if she was eating, at which point Mrs Longworth confessed that she had eaten a single piece of chopped hazelnut.

She was summoned to her manager’s office and within minutes had been suspended and was escorted from the premises.

She went back to work this week and her manager told her that she was fired.

Mrs Longworth said: “He said he was taking into consideration my honesty and the length of time I had been working there and I thought he was going to give me a warning.

“I could not believe it when he said he was sacking me.

He said it was like stealing from the company and it was gross misconduct.

“Everybody is shocked by what has happened — people keep saying they cannot believe it. Most of all, I am just annoyed by what I have done for that company and this is how they have treated me after 17 years.”

Mrs Longworth says she has never been in trouble at work for anything else and has only ever had one long period of sickness, lasting six weeks, when she broke her arm.

A spokesman for Park Cakes said: “Park Cake Bakeries takes issues of hygiene very seriously indeed and has very strict rules about eating or chewing on the production line. To do so is an act of gross misconduct and, as such, warrants dismissal.”

He added that Mrs Longworth was the only fulltime member of staff to be dismissed for eating, but said a number of agency staff had previously been removed immediately for the same reason.

Mrs Longworth said that while she understood the rules, hygiene was never mentioned to her as a reason for dismissal during the meetings she had with bosses.