Food safety news round-up: Nine-month prison sentence for a woman for failing to comply with food hygiene regulations and a takeaway restaurant guilty of five offences
A vegetarian curry restaurant, Saravanaa Bhavan in Tooting, London was fined and ordered to close for cockroach infestation.
Cockroach in flour
A customer had spotted a cockroach in a meal ordered from the restaurant, and alerted Wandsworth Council’s food safety team, which immediately launched an investigation into health and hygiene standards at Saravanaa.
The investigation found a serious and widespread cockroach infestation throughout its kitchen and food storage areas.
Inspectors reported several findings that put customers in serious risk to health, which included:
- Live and dead cockroaches were found, along with their faeces, on food preparation surfaces and worktops.
- Two live cockroaches found in a box of plain flour while others were found underneath a chest freezer, at the entrance to a walk-in fridge unit, alongside an area storing spring onions and crawling on the ceiling.
- Numerous cockroaches were found in the customer order ticket machine placed on a shelf above cooked food.
- Dirt and food debris, plus dirty utensils, were found throughout the kitchen and storage areas.
Magistrates at Wimbledon Magistrates Court were told that the infestation was “out of control”. The court endorsed inspectors’ decision to immediately order the restaurant to close by serving a Hygiene Emergency Notice.
In December 2019, Saravanaa Bhavan of Southbridge Ltd pleaded guilty to four food hygiene offences and fined £6,500 plus court amounting to £3,170.
Wandsworth Council spokesman on consumer protection, Cllr Steffi Sutters said: “This case should serve as a stark warning to other food businesses that are tempted to take a risk with the health and well-being of their customers.
“It is vital that owners and proprietors of food businesses take all the steps they need to make sure they do not suffer the same expensive fate as this establishment.
“Customers can also check on hygiene quality levels in local restaurants and take-aways by scrutinising their star ratings.
“All food establishments in Wandsworth have been given a star rating based on their safety and hygiene standards and this rating is normally displayed prominently near front entrances. If it is not, then customers should ask the owners why it is not.”
A woman was sentenced nine-months imprisonment for failing to comply with food hygiene regulations.
Fruit flies in rice
North Somerset District Council food hygiene inspectors were called to The Major, where an investigation found a number of ‘serious’ health failings.
A swarm of fruit flies were mistaken for black pepper at the restaurant in Weston-Super-Mare as well as, signs of rodents, food such as curry and cheese had mould, cooked food was stored at incorrect temperature and other food past its sell-by date. Inspectors also found paint brushes and white spirit next to condiments and there was evidence of rat infestation, the Bristol Crown Court heard.
Kim Gasson, 52, was found guilty to six charges of failing to comply with food hygiene regulations and convicted of contravening a hygiene prohibition order. The Major was immediately after the inspection and Mrs Gasson was sentenced to nine-months imprisonment and suspended for two years, Bristol Crown Court heard.
Judge Michael Longman told Gasson: “Conditions were, quite frankly, disgusting.”
Harry Ahuja, prosecuting for the council, said Gasson had been served with an indefinite hygiene prohibition order in Cornwall in 2015, after failing to keep a food premises properly.
Mr Ahuja told Bristol Crown Court: “In the kitchen an inspector found mouldy and rancid food which included a colander of rice in a sink which appeared to be covered in black pepper. It was actually covered with a fruit flies swarm which flew up, causing the inspector to step back.”
Several environmental health breeches at a supermarke lead to fine.
A Tai Oriental Supermarket owner, Rizway Ifran Tai, of Bath Road, Banbury pleaded guilty to six cases of failing to comply with food hygiene requirements.
Mr Tai had failed to have a pest control treatment in place and a significant amount of rat droppings was found underneath shelving throughout the shop.
Two dead and decomposing adult rats were found on a sticky pest control board; the owner failed to keep the shop clean and there was no system in place for regular cleaning or maintenance.
He also failed to undertake training and supervision of the staff working at the premises. In addition, the owner failed to complete the new registration form notifying the local authority of a change in food operators. Tai was fined a total of £1,000 and ordered to pay £3,850 in costs. The contraventions were found on August 15, 2018.
A spokesman for Cherwell District Council, the authority that enforces environmental health, said: “Cherwell District Council takes the responsibility of enforcing food hygiene legislation seriously and will not hesitate to take the appropriate action against a food business owner where they have failed to meet the necessary standards and/or put the public at risk. In this case the failings were so serious that it was appropriate to prosecute the owner. I am pleased that as a result of our involvement with this business that the owner has taken steps to make sure that he has addressed all the issues identified by officers from the council.”
Chinese takeaway restaurant owner jailed for four months for dirty kitchen.
Owner of Chinese takeaway Grace, Mr Zhi Zhao, still operated the company despite being banned from running a food business in 2009.
At Swansea Crown Court, Mr Zhao admitted five food hygiene offences. Following an inspection in January 2018, council officials found he had been banned by Maidstone Council in 2009 from being involved in food businesses.
In sentencing, Judge Geraint Walters said Zhao had no concept of labelling food or keeping proper records and no understanding of allergens. Zhao admitted three food hygiene offences relating to the condition of the premises, one of failing to comply with a food safety improvement notice and one of running a food business after being banned by a crown court.
He was jailed for four months and ordered to pay £1,000 prosecution costs at Swansea Crown Court.
“If the public had seen the state of that kitchen then you would not have had a single customer,” Judge Geraint Walters said.
A takeaway restaurant in Salford was found guilty of five offences and fined £6,000.
Rat droppings on restaurant floor
On 3 January 2020 Salford and Manchester Magistrates Court convicted Love Balti takeaway of Yamin 121 Ltd guilty of five offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 which included:
- Failure to control pests.
- Failure to prevent cross contamination.
- Failure to keep the premises clean and maintained in a good state of repair.
- Failure to implement a documented food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP and obstruction.
Environmental health officers from Salford City Council carried out a routine inspection at the restaurant on 30 January 2018.
Investigations found several hygiene issues including; fresh rat droppings in the upstairs store room, underneath shelves used to store food and inside a meter cupboard near the front retail counter, food storage containers and kitchen equipment were dirty, and the standard of cleanliness throughout the building was poor.
The takeaway business failed to give evidence of having an effective cleaning procedure.
It was also revealed that the restaurant did not follow orders from October 2017, when pest control advised it is “vital” that all holes in the building needed to be sealed to prevent rats infesting, and to implement pest control measures and thoroughly clean the building
When officers returned on 1 February, they were told a pest control contractor had treated the problem but more, fresh rat dropping were found in the food storage room and the holes had not been sealed.
It was then ordered for the company to immediately close, however officers were still able to place an order for a chicken jalfrezi.
The company denied that they had continued trading but Just Eat later confirmed that they was still trading until 10.30pm on 1 February despite the agreement the day before.
Salford City Council Officers visited again on 2 February. They were told pest proofing had been carried out but found fresh rat droppings in the meter cupboard in the public area. There were holes in the staffroom toilet floor and at the front of the building and evidence of a rat run in the back yard. The premises were still dirty, particularly the gas cooking range, deep fat fryer, refrigerators and poppadum cupboard.
The company was served with two hygiene improvement notices requiring the implementation of a documented food safety management system and a procedure to control pests at the business. The business was advised to remain closed until the requirements of the hygiene improvement notices were met which it did.
Speaking after the case Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: “It should not have taken multiple visits and legal action before the company solved these problems. They should have responded immediately to protect the public. The vast majority of Salford takeaways. 94.5% have no problems in complying with the law and the council will always take firm action against those which do not. We have high standards when it comes to food hygiene.”
Watch: Top 10 health & safety prosecutions of 2019
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