Fine for takeaway that didn’t have hygiene on the menu

A Leeds takeaway has been issued a hefty fine for food safety offences after an unsuspecting customer found a cockroach in their pizza.

Called to investigate the baked-in bug on 22 August 2012, environmental health officers found conditions so appalling that they immediately closed Munchies at 21 Harehills Road.

Having pleaded guilty to a number of food safety offences, Leeds magistrates today fined Munchies owner Matloob Hussein £750 and ordered him to pay £1250 in costs. Magistrates described the case as a 'stomach churning horror story'.

The shocked customer reported their find to environmental health officers who found a major cockroach infestation throughout the premises. The insects had invaded all areas of the takeaway, including food preparation areas.

Various utensils and bits of equipment used to store, prepare and cook food were found to be in a filthy condition. Cooking pans were found with dead cockroaches covering and inside them.

It quickly became apparent to officers that cleaning hadn’t been a priority as the premises were dirty throughout.

They found a significant build-up of food debris with dirt sticking to the floors, walls and work units. The floor of the walk-in chiller was covered in a layer of organic matter.

Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for the environment, said:

“Munchies took the idea of a stuffed crust pizza to a whole new level.

“It beggars belief that any business owner could knowingly allow conditions to get so bad and put the health of unsuspecting members of the public at such risk.

“Our environmental health officers can offer their wealth of experience and expertise on all aspects of food safety to help businesses keep on the right side of the law.

“However, where businesses fail, we can and will prosecute to ensure the safety of residents.”

Leeds City Council regulates all food businesses in Leeds and environmental health officers regularly inspect restaurants, takeaways and other eateries to ensure they comply with strict food safety legislation.

The outcome of these inspections is a rating based on the Food Standard Agency’s national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme.

Potential customers can check how clean their chosen eatery is by viewing ratings at http://ratings.food.gov.uk/.

Businesses can contact the food safety team at Leeds City Council for advice and residents can contact them to report any concerns on 0113 247 6286 or food.safety@leeds.gov.uk.

A Munchies' customer was shocked to find a cockroach baked into their pizza.

Notes to editors:

Munchies remained closed until 31 August 2012. Their food hygiene rating at the time was ‘0’ – urgent improvement necessary.

Munchies’ current food hygiene rating is ‘1’ – major improvement necessary, based on an inspection in March 2013.

Environmental health officers continue to advise the business and the owners can request a re-visit and re-grading at any time.

For media enquiries please contact:

Amanda Burns, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1577

email: amanda.l.burns@leeds.gov.uk