Boss of rat-infested restaurant fined £15k after droppings found in kitchen
The boss of a rat-infested restaurant in the Black Country has been given a suspended four-month prison sentence and ordered to pay £13,800 fine with £5,480 costs.
Environmental health officials were so horrified by what they found on a routine visit to Koi's World Buffet in Dudley Port, Tipton that it was immediately shut down because of the danger to public health on September 6 last year.
The premises were dirty, peppered with holes and showing widespread evidence of rat activity, a judge heard.
A bag of strawberry jelly mix, sachet of chocolate and food stuff packaging had been gnawed in the main kitchen and desert handling area, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Paw prints and droppings
There were rat droppings in the raw meat and fish preparation area, other parts of the building and a shipping container kept behind the premises and used as a dry food store, revealed Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting on behalf of Sandwell Council.
There were paw prints in spilt flour on a shelf when officials returned six days later but conditions had improved sufficiently for the restaurant to reopen on September 14.
Wen Cai, the sole director of Buffet World Ltd which ran the restaurant, was repeatedly warned that a pest control contract was needed to end the rat menace.
But he still had not got one six months later when council officers found a bar of catering chocolate and bag of seaweed that had been gnawed in the dry store which had rat droppings on the floor and was closed with immediate effect.
Mr Jackson concluded: "There had been wilful blindness or a lack of foresight to the risk. The food premises were dirty and the fabric wholly inadequate.
"There were rat droppings in food storage and preparation areas, gnawed food and even paw prints.
"The defendant fell far short of the appropriate standard by failing to put in place measures that are recognised as standards in the industry."
Wen Cai received a 26-week suspended sentence for dissimilar offences committed while running a restaurant in Preston in 2015, the court heard.
The 38-year-old from Dudley Road, Tividale, who pleaded guilty to eight food and hygiene offences, closed the business for good in July.
Mr Glenn Cook, defending, added: "He is now trying to get out of the mess he put himself in by managing the restaurant."
Judge James Burbidge QC told Cai, who was disqualified from becoming a company director for four years: "You were cavalier with hygiene and ran an establishment that was entirely inappropriate to provide food to the public."
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