Rat problem lands food store owner in court
A Harehills store owner has been fined for food safety breaches and failing to register as a food business.
Noshi Foodstore operator Ifthikar Hussain appeared before Leeds magistrates last week. Having pleaded guilty to two offences, Hussain was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,939 with a £100 victim surcharge.
The shop on Harehills Roads was inspected by environmental health officers on 5 November 2013. At the time, officers found evidence of rats in the basement butchery area.
Officers temporarily closed the premises until Hussain could prove that pest control measures had removed the rat problem and the required food hygiene and safety standards had been met.
A follow-up inspection on 22 January 2014 again found rat droppings throughout the shop and food items stored on shelves had been gnawed.
Officers immediately served a Hygience Emergency Prohibition Notice, closing the store and stopping trade.
Only once further pest control treatments were completed and the store cleaned and disinfected were officers satisfied that the imminent risk to the public had been removed. Hussain was allowed to reopen the store on 5 February 2014.
All businesses selling food are required by law to be registered with Leeds City Council which Hussain failed to do for Noshi Foodstore.
Hussain was prosecuted for failing to complete and return the food registration form and for failing to put in place adequate procedures to control pests.
Councillor Mark Dobson, executive member for environmental protection and community safety, said:
“It makes your stomach churn when you hear of rats nibbling on food that is destined to hit the shelves for public consumption.
“However, the public can be reassured that our environmental health officers will take swift action if they find anything that isn’t up to the strict hygiene standards required by law and prosecute if business owners are found lacking.”
Leeds City Council regulates all food businesses in Leeds which must be registered. Registration is free.
Environmental health officers regularly inspect restaurants, takeaways and food shops 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 or store 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.