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Owner fined after dead mice found in takeaway

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 20, 2014

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A TAKEAWAY owner has been landed with a £7,500 fine after dead mice were found on his premises along with a string of other shocking food hygiene offences.

However, Sajid Mahmood continues to work at Express Chicken, at 10 Borough Road, Burton, after the courts did not impose a ban on being involved in running a food business,

Mahmood admitted eight food hygiene offences at Stafford Magistrates’ Court after East Staffordshire Borough Council brought a prosecution.

The offences included failing to put in place adequate procedures to control pests, inadequate cleaning and failing to keep food at a safe temperature.

The council’s environmental health officers visited the premises on October 22, 2012 on a routine hygiene inspection and discovered mouse droppings throughout the store room and back kitchen as well as two dead mice. There was also no soap at the wash hand basins, staff were not trained in food hygiene practices and there was no food safety management system at the premises.

Officers revisited a number of times to secure improvements and three hygiene improvement notices were served. Having initially denied being the food business operator Mahmood acknowledged responsibility during a formal interview carried out in February 2013. Another food hygiene inspection was carried out in April 2013 where standards were seen to have improved somewhat, but the premises still only achieved a rating of two out of a possible five.

Councillor Julia Jessel, deputy leader for regulatory services, said: “We were satisfied with the outcome of this case and we hope it serves as a warning that we will prosecute businesses who fail to meet the required standards of hygiene.

“We seek to take a graduated approach to enforcement. Where possible, this will involve an informal, advisory approach to inform food business operators of their legal responsibilities to secure compliance. However formal means of enforcement will be used where necessary.

“This case demonstrates that people who are new to running a food business must ensure they have a good understanding of managing food safety before they start operating.

“Our job is to ensure that food is safe to eat and to this end businesses should not be afraid to contact us for free advice on food hygiene when setting up. However, when a business does not take advantage of the advice on offer and shows a blatant disregard for food safety legislation we have to take action to safeguard health”.

When asked if Mahmood was allowed to continue running Express Chicken, a spokesperson for the borough council said: “The court may impose a prohibition on a person being involved in running a food business, but in this case it didn’t”.

Mr Mahmood was fined:

• £1,500 for failing to keep hot food above 63oC

• £1,500 for failing to have adequate procedures in place to control pests

• £1,500 for failing to clean and disinfect articles that came into contact with food at a frequency sufficient to avoid the risk of contamination

• £1,000 for failing to provide training, instruction and supervision to food handlers

• £800 for failing to put in place procedures based on the HACCP principles

• £500 for failing to ensure the structure of the premises permitted good hygiene practices

• £500 for failing to provide materials for cleaning hands at wash hand basins

• £200 for failing to register the business

A victim surcharge of £120 was also ordered and the council were awarded £1,400 costs.

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