FILTHY conditions at a takeaway with ‘rodent activity’ outside and a colander used in a drain have been exposed by environmental health inspectors.
The owner of zero hygiene rated Panda Chinese, in The Square, Wickham, appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court alongside the food outlet’s manager and were told to pay £12,000 combined.
Mohammed Riaze, 42, pleaded guilty to 11 charges as did An Lee, 42, who ran Panda on a daily basis and came clean over his abandonment of responsibility.
‘Mr Riaze is only guilty of being the owner, I am guilty because I was running it,’ he said.
The court heard of numerous failings surrounding the cleanliness of the takeaway – with poor standards resulting in potential cross contamination. No one was reported ill from eating there though.
Kevin Gosling, environmental health manager for Winchester City Council, which brought the case following visits between November 2018 and April this year, said: ‘We tried hard to get them to comply but there would always be a yo-yo effect where there would be an improvement for a period before conditions got worse.
‘We put in place action plans and training, all through the public purse to try another avenue (than going to court). But it was all to no avail.’
The cost of the investigation amounted to just short of £9,000 as the authority ran out of patience with Panda, a well-known Chinese that was only taken over by Riaze in October 2018 but had seen Lee running operations under previous regimes.
Mr Gosling said the rear storage room was in a poor condition with it having holes in it and providing rodents with access.
‘There is evidence of rodent activity where wooden items have been chewed,’ he said.
‘The holes meant there was access to the storage room and if rodents got in they could defecate on eggs which could go into the kitchen with the bacteria on.’
But he added there was ‘no evidence of any activity inside the premises’.
Riaze, of Chudleigh Street, London, admitted eight charges of failing to comply with food safety, which included failing to register the business, and three charges of failing to comply with a hygiene improvement notice.
Magistrates ordered him to pay a fine of £613, a £61 surcharge and costs of £2,500.
Lee, of Audret Close, Portchester, admitted the same charges before being told to cough up a £2,154 fine, a £170 surcharge and costs of £6,495.
Cabinet member for built environment and wellbeing Cllr Jackie Porter, said: ‘Food businesses that repeatedly fail to comply with food safety standards will inevitably face prosecution as a final outcome. It is important that we ensure this legislation is followed and we will always seek to prosecute in cases like this where the safety of our residents is at risk.
‘This sends out a strong message that this council does not tolerate poor food hygiene standards and the consequences are very serious.’