MOUSE droppings, dirty food containers and greasy conditions were found at a popular restaurant by health inspectors.
‘Experienced caterer’ Babul Miah was left scooping up droppings as an environmental health officer examined Bombay Express Balti House in Southsea, in an unannounced visit.
Conditions were so poor that Miah, 57, was asked to close voluntarily for 10 days and then prosecuted by Portsmouth City Council over the ‘imminent risk’ his food might pose to customers.
Council officers handed the Indian restaurant – a longstanding staple of Albert Road – a hygiene rating of zero after the inspection on September 20 last year.
Portsmouth magistrates handed Miah, who has been running the restaurant for 25 years, a £2,800 fine and warned him conditions ‘could lead to death’.
Outside court Miah insisted he has the ‘cleanest kitchen in Albert Road’. He showed magistrates the cleaned up premises and has since won back a rating of three.
Jenny Ager, prosecuting, told Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court how Miah, who blamed social media for losing customers following his poor rating, confessed to officers how he only took action after inspections from the council.
Sentencing, magistrate Nigel Dedman said: ‘It’s very serious, potentially you could be going to prison today.
‘Food hygiene is something you as a proprietor should be looking at daily – not every 18 months but on a daily basis.
‘You are responsible for the cleanliness of your premises, no ifs nor buts.
‘The public go in there expecting a service and don’t expect the potential of contamination of food, which could lead to death.
‘That’s what we’re talking about here – it’s not something you should be taking lightly.
‘We were dismayed that a level three is something you should strive for.’
Inspectors found the first floor flat above the restaurant packed with rubbish.
‘As Mr Miah was going around with the first officer he actually cleared away some of the mouse droppings,' Ms Ager said, adding the inspection revealed a ‘bleak’ picture.
Robin Townsend, for Miah, said there had been a staff disturbance, his business partner left in 2016 and his father died last year.
Miah admitted seven hygiene charges, including not training or supervising staff.
He must pay ££1,279 costs and a £170 victim surcharge.
‘I’ve got the cleanest kitchen in Albert Road’
RESTAURANT owner Babul Miah said he spent £20,000 on cleaning up and fixing his firm and said: 'I apologise.’
Portsmouth magistrates heard how Miah delegated to workers but has now cleaned up the kitchen, with a pest controller report confirming there were now no signs of an infestation.
‘I never gave my customers bad food, they never went to complain to the council because I made sure the food is hygienically cooked and satisfactory for them to eat.’
He added: ‘I’ve spent a lot of money on that property to bring it back to what it was before and it is the top of the market.’
Miah, who was re-inspected in January, said: ‘I'm the cleanest kitchen in Albert Road, I can guarantee that.'