PICTURED: Filth and droppings found in mice-infested pizza takeaway
The former owner of a Black Country restaurant, who ignored a mice infestation that posed a serious health threat for customers, was starting a jail sentence today.
Muhammad Khan turned a deaf ear to advice from hygiene experts and paid no attention when the Food Standard Agency put on a free coaching session for his staff at the Pizza Cottage in Caldmore Road, Walsall, a judge heard.
“This was a flagrant disregard for the law over years not months,” said Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting at Wolverhampton Crown Court on behalf of Walsall Council.
- Express & Star comment: Despicable way to treat customers
“He knew exactly what was required but placed profit above the well being of his paying customers,” Mr Jackson continued.
The 30-year-old defendant was in charge of the restaurant, which offered take away and eat in meals, for over four years during which three inspections between May 2013 and July 2015 had each pointed out major deficiencies in the way it was being run.
At the sentencing hearing, the Judge also read out a string of other offences to which Khan had already pleaded guilty.
- Preparing and serving food for human consumption in and from a filthy kitchen area.
- Having no food management systems in place.
- Failing to provide staff with hand drying facilities at the wash hand basin.
- Failure to provide any evidence that staff had been trained.
- Failure to provide appropriate work clothes to his staff.
Mr Jackson observed: “More than two years on from the initial inspection the Pizza Cottage still did not have so much as a food management system in place.”
Environment health officials were horrified by what they found on a routine visit to the restaurant while it was open on January 16, 2017. One later confessed: “My first impression was of squalor and dirt.”
Pest control experts had found evidence of mouse droppings almost four months earlier but nothing had been done.
Mr Jackson said they were found behind the fridge, on window sills, in a box containing cup holders and straws, next to a brush used to clean the Kebab machine and on greaseproof paper used to line the cooker.
The restaurant was immediately ordered to close.
Khan severed all links with the business after its sale in July 2017 since which time it has been under new management.
Mr Christopher Loach, defending, conceded: “There is clear evidence of wilful blindness and he accepts that running the business was beyond him.”
Khan, from West Bromwich Road, Walsall, was banned indefinitely from running a restaurant.
He admitted 10 breaches of food hygiene legislation and was jailed for six months by Judge Barry Berlin, who said: “Your paying customers were being put at serious risk.”
In a statement following the hearing, David Elrington, who is regulatory services manager at Walsall Council, said he was pleased with the conviction.
"His breaches demonstrate a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the even the most minimum standards of safety," he added.
“Environmental Health regulations are in place to protect the public.
"We always work with businesses to help them understand their responsibilities, but we will also pursue them through the courts if they fail to take these important responsibilities seriously.”
“Mr Khan knew exactly what was required of him as a food business operator.”