A Salford takeaway which carried on trading even after fresh rat droppings were repeatedly found on the premises has been fined £6,000.
Yamin 121 Ltd, the company behind the Love Balti takeaway on Langworthy Road, was found guilty of five offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013, namely failure to control pests, failure to prevent cross contamination, failure to keep the premises clean and maintained in a good state of repair, failure to implement a documented food safety management system based on the principles of HACCP and obstruction.
The case was proved in the absence of any company representative appearing in court at Salford and Manchester magistrates’ court on Friday 3 January. The firm was also ordered to pay £1700 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
Magistrates heard that environmental health officers from Salford City Council carried out a routine inspection at the business on 30 January 2018.
They found fresh rat droppings in the upstairs store room, underneath shelves used to store food and inside a meter cupboard near the front retail counter. Food storage containers and kitchen equipment was dirty, and the standard of cleanliness throughout the building was poor. There was no evidence the business had an effective cleaning procedure.
A pest control record from 24 October 2017 advised that holes in the building needed sealing to prevent rats getting in. This advice had clearly not been followed because holes were found on the first floor of the building. There had been no further visits from pest control.
There was no evidence that business understood the serious risk to customers from rats getting into the building.
The company was instructed to seal all the holes to prevent rats getting through, to implement pest control measures and thoroughly clean the building and was told the premises would be inspected again on 1 February.
When officers returned they were told a pest control contractor had treated the problem but more, fresh rat dropping were found in the food storage room and the holes had not been sealed. A pest controller’s report from the day before said it was “vital” that all the holes upstairs were sealed but this had not been done.
The company agreed to close to take action but when officers phoned the business that evening they were able to order a chicken jalfrezi. When challenged by officers, company representatives denied they had continued trading but Just Eat later confirmed that Love Balti was still trading until 10.30pm on 1 February despite the agreement the day before.
Officers visited again on 2 February. They were told pest proofing had been carried out but found fresh rat droppings in the meter cupboard in the public area. There were holes in the staffroom toilet floor and at the front of the building and evidence of a rat run in the back yard. The premises were still dirty, particularly the gas cooking range, deep fat fryer, refrigerators and poppadum cupboard.
The business was closed for three days for pest proofing and thorough cleaning. When council officers returned on 5 February they found that, while the ground floor had been cleaned, the deep fat fryer and the poppadum cupboard needed more cleaning. Holes were found around a rear drain pipe which were immediately sealed up. No further fresh rat droppings were found but the company was advised to renew pest control measures.
The company was served with two hygiene improvement notices requiring the implementation of a documented food safety management system and a procedure to control pests at the business. The business was advised to remain closed until the requirements of the hygiene improvement notices were met which it did.
Speaking after the case Councillor David Lancaster, lead member for environment and community safety, said: “It should not have taken multiple visits and legal action before the company solved these problems. They should have responded immediately to protect the public. The vast majority of Salford takeaways – 94.5% - have no problems in complying with the law and the council will always take firm action against those which do not. We have high standards when it comes to food hygiene.”