THE owner of a Chinese tea bar has to pay almost £13,000 after inspectors found his restaurant in a disgusting state.
Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard an inspector found evidence that a rusty chest freezer lid was used to prepare food at the Hong Kong Tea Bar.
Now after failing to fully clean up the Lake Road eatery owner Ah Chau Wong has been told pay out the cash and has been banned from running any food business.
Steve Bell, environmental health team leader at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘I’m very pleased with the result. Serious breaches of food hygiene are given the gravity that they deserve.
‘It sends a clear message there’s no excuse for poor hygiene that puts the public at risk.’
Wong voluntarily closed the bar after an unannounced visit in May.
There were rodent droppings in several areas, on the shelving, in the store room, on top of the fridge and on the kitchen floor behind work unitsProsecutor Paul Farley
Prosecutor Paul Farley said environmental health officer Donna Harvey saw a catalogue of problems.
He said: ‘She noted that the cleanliness of the walls, floor and the equipment was poor, describing store rooms as being very cluttered with shoes, dirty aprons stored in close proximity to food.
‘There were rodent droppings in several areas, on the shelving, in the store room, on top of the fridge and on the kitchen floor behind work units. She noted several areas requiring pest proofing and there were inadequate hand-washing facilities. Most concerning she saw food at risk of contamination, uncovered fried rice that had been stored in close proximity to mouse droppings.
‘This business and the cleanliness of it was in a very poor state.’
She even saw a worker chopping cooked duck on a board meant only for raw meat.
Uncooked duck was left on a kitchen worktop at room temperature and some cooked meat was left in a box near mouse excrement.
The inspector was invited back by Wong twice just days after her first visit but found a litany of problems. The kitchen had not been cleaned up.
On her third visit pest control had been put in place and unclean equipment had been removed, but there was still no food safety management system in place. This year inspectors visited again and found filthy conditions, giving the premises a rating of one out of five.
Mr Farley added: ‘The walls were greasy. There was food debris on the floor under the sink and mouse droppings. Food hygiene processes have not significantly improved despite Wong undertaking training and putting in place a written food safety system.’
Wong sat in the dock throughout the hearing as a Cantonese interpreter translated proceedings.
Councillor Robert New, cabinet member for environment at the council, said: ‘It’s good to see the court taking food hygiene offences so seriously, and backing up the great work being done by our environmental health team.’
Adam Manning, defending the tea bar, said Wong, his staff and family fully co-operated with the inspector. He said: ‘Mr Wong tells me he is sorry for this situation.
‘They worked hard during the time the business was closed to achieve those requirements.’
He added the family replaced equipment and repainted the walls.
Mr Manning said: ‘They have improved the way they work to ensure that food is stored at the correct temperature and covered up when required. Mr Wong accepts his responsibility.’