Woodhouse restaurant guilty of food hygiene offences
A restaurant in Woodhouse has been prosecuted by Leeds City Council for food hygiene offences including evidence of mouse activity and flies.
The operator of Zaks restaurant at 48 Woodsley Road, Nadeem Arshad, was fined £480 and ordered to pay £2521 costs and a £48 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to seven offences at Leeds Magistrates Court on Friday (17 March).
Officers from Leeds City Council’s environmental health team visited the property twice, in August and December. The first visit was a routine food hygiene inspection, with the officer finding several contraventions of food safety legislation and in their opinion a complete lack of regard for food safety.
The operator was intended to be prosecuted on six charges but two days before the case could be heard in December officers returned to the property after two complaints had been received. The key issues noted included:
- Mouse droppings found throughout the premises, including on surfaces on contact with food. Food packaging had been gnawed and a hole was found near the cooker which was giving access to the kitchen
- Flies seen in the main kitchen area, with no evidence of insect control
- Long-term build-up of dirt and debris on floors and food store areas, along with accumulation of dirt on door handles, surfaces and seals
- Dirty cloths and tea towels in food preparation and storage areas
- Raw and ready-to-eat foods stored together, with uncovered foods stored in the fridges and chiller
- The floor and walls in the kitchen area were dirty and greasy, with damp coming through the ceiling in the pot washing area
- No records of staff members having knowledge of regulations on cooking times, temperatures and food cooling monitoring
After the initial inspection, a pest control contract had been set up but it had not been progressed as no further pest control visits had taken place before the second inspection in December.
In mitigation the court heard that Mr Arshad was no longer in charge of the restaurant, and because of his wife’s ill-health he had not been able to give the business his full attention and had employed a manager.
Due to the seriousness of the offences, the magistrates in summing up said they had considered a prison sentence but due to the circumstances decided to impose the highest fine available.
Leeds City Council executive member for environment and sustainability Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:
“The fact the magistrates were considering a prison sentence for these offences should serve as a warning to all food business operators in Leeds about the importance of following all the guidelines and standards on food safety and the seriousness of ensuring effective pest control measures are in place, or the consequences could be severe.
“Our officers are happy to offer guidance to businesses to ensure no such issues arise, so I would advise operators to make use of that free advice as we won’t hesitate to take action when we consider it necessary.”
The council’s environmental health team is employed to check that food businesses in Leeds comply with food law requirements and are authorised to take action where they find non-compliance.
Food poisoning is a major source of illness in the UK. The Food Standards Agency advises that there are more than 500,000 cases of food poisoning in the UK a year from known pathogens. Most common sources of food poisoning involve cross contamination of food. Cross contamination can be caused by poor hand hygiene and lack of care taken when placing raw and ready to eat food close, or handling using shared or dirty equipment.
Leeds City Council regulates all food businesses in Leeds and environmental health officers regularly inspect restaurants, takeaways and 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.
Food safety ratings can be checked at http://ratings.food.gov.uk/.
Businesses can contact the food safety team at Leeds City Council for advice and residents can report any concerns on 0113 378 5900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media enquiries contact:
Leeds City Council communications team on 0113 3786007