THE OWNER of a ‘filthy’ rodent-ridden Indian takeaway that was a ‘grave’ risk to public health came under fire from magistrates before he was dished out a £3,500 fine.
Balti Express owner Mohammed Moboswir Ali, 67, was condemned at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court for the conditions of his takeaway on Eastney Road which saw it shut down in August.
The establishment’s ‘sustained failure of standards’ saw it given a zero food hygiene rating following the catalogue of breaches after visits from Portsmouth City Council health and safety officers.
The court heard inspectors found up to 300 mouse droppings close to where food was cooked as well as cross-contamination concerns with raw meat placed with other foods. Other items of food were mouldy and ‘well past their best’.
Toilets, cooking apparatus and cleaning areas were also described as ‘dirty’ while there was also nowhere to clean and dry hands in the toilet. Four hygiene notices had been served on Ali.
The dire conditions of the takeaway left council officers deciding to shut it down immediately. Despite its state, no cases of ill health were reported.
‘He was a repeat offender with the premises being poorly cleaned, there was a failure to maintain hygiene standards and food safety records,’ prosecutor Jenny Ager said.
‘It led to increased risks of cross contamination and pest activity. There was poor safety management and the building was in a poor state.
‘The toilets were filthy, the floors were filthy, there was food debris and the overall cleanliness saw a significant decline over the years with an accumulation of dirt.’
Ms Ager added: ‘Officers decided there was a grave risk to public health and shut down the restaurant straight away.’
Ali made improvements to the takeaway which allowed it to be reopened in September but he has not requested to have a new food hygiene rating since – meaning it remains at zero.
Magistrates were told the business – open since 2006 – had a turnover of up to £1,200 a week but after expenses Ali was only left with a £70 profit a month.
Ali pleaded guilty to seven charges relating to food and safety hygiene standards including the kitchen and storage areas being found in a substandard state, inadequate toilet washing and drying facilities and dirty kitchen apparatus. He also admitted to failing to protect against pest ingression, of having food not protected from risk of contamination and failed to follow safety management systems.
Magistrates fined Ali £3,500, ordered him to pay costs of £1,319 and to pay a victim surcharge of £50.
Presiding magistrate Debra Ward said: ‘There was a prolonged period of deteriorating standards that was potentially dangerous to the public.’
Outside court, Ali said he would clean up his act before telling The News: ‘(The takeaway) is dying. I don’t have a lot of money. Surviving is hard for me.’