Leeds city centre restaurant fined for food safety offences after salmonella outbreak

A Leeds city centre restaurant has been fined for serious food safety offences found in an unannounced inspection after reports of salmonella food poisoning that left 19 people ill.

The Red Chilli restaurant at 6 Great George Street, Leeds, was visited by environmental health officers from Leeds City Council in July last year after they received reports of a number of people suffering food poisoning symptoms such as diarrhoea, fever and abdominal pain after eating there.

Leeds Magistrates yesterday fined Red Chilli’s owners £3,000 and ordered them to pay £3,000 costs after they pleaded guilty to a number of charges relating to conditions found in the restaurant during the inspections.

During the visit environmental health officers found:
• high risk foods not stored at safe temperatures;
• foods exposed to serious risk of bacterial cross contamination;
• dirty items of food equipment including a food slicer and food storage containers;
• a hand basin for food handlers was dirty.

The charges were around failure to manage and implement their food safety management system including the safe storage and preparation of food, resulting in potential cross-contamination, as well as a lack of effective temperature controls in storage and preparation. Red Chilli also admitted that the kitchen layout at the time did not allow for good food hygiene practices and that fittings and equipment were not effectively cleaned or disinfected.

Councillor Mark Dobson, Leeds City Council’s executive member for the Environment said:
‘It is extremely disappointing to find such poor hygiene conditions in a major city centre restaurant but it underlines how important it is for food businesses to operate safely and within the law to protect consumers.

“Leeds City Council operates under the National Food Hygiene Rating Scheme which advises businesses to clearly display their current hygiene rating. I would strongly encourage people to check these ratings when deciding where to eat or buy food.”

A full copy of the joint report by Leeds City Council and the Health Protection Agency following the salmonella outbreak is available on the council’s website by clicking here http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Business/Pages/Environmental-health-licensing.aspx and downloading the PDF of the Red Chilli outbreak report in the documents section.

Notes to editors:
Red Chilli re-opened last year once environmental health officers were satisfied procedures were adequate.
A recent inspection conducted by the council on July 26 resulted in a one-star rating under the national Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. This is based on a scale of 0-5, with 0 requiring urgent improvement and 5 being rated as very good. The one-star rating reflected Red Chilli’s poor history of non-compliance with food safety regulations and means that major improvement was necessary. Environmental health officers continue to advise the business and they can request a re-visit and re-grading at any time.
For more information on the national ratings scheme visit the Food Standards Agency’s website at http://www.food.gov.uk

For media enquiries please contact:
Donna Cox, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3335
e-mail: donna.cox@leeds.gov.uk