Owner of rat-infested Walsall Dixy Chicken gets suspended sentence

The owner of a rat-infested Dixy Chicken branch in Walsall town centre has received a suspended jail sentence and must pay £3,000.

Dixy Chicken in Bradford Street ceased trading in October 2021. Photo: Google.
Dixy Chicken in Bradford Street ceased trading in October 2021. Photo: Google.

The Bradford Street takeaway was closed by council environmental health officers on August 11, 2021, after rat droppings were found across the premises.

Droppings were found behind fryers, on shelving underneath the till and the chicken hot hold counter, in the chicken breading station in the basement, on top of a disused freezer and on a pile of tiles in the basement.

Officers served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice on the owners, shutting the business down until work to bring the premises and hygiene practices up to a satisfactory standard was undertaken and the serious risk to public health removed.

This infestation was serious enough for Dudley Magistrates’ Court to consider the alleged offences against defendant Murtaza Ali on Wednesday.

The court heard that inadequate procedures were in place to control pests and that the layout, design, construction, siting and size of the food premises did not permit good food hygiene practices as there were a number of gaps in walls which permitted pest access.

Anyone running a food business must have a plan based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles.

The court heard that officers were not able to view a Food Safety Management system based on the principles of HACCP.

The magistrates concluded that this was a high culpability matter and Ali was given a four0month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Ali will also have to pay costs of £3,000 within 28 days.

Councillor Garry Perry, deputy leader for resilient communities, said: “Poor food hygiene can kill people or make them gravely ill — it really is as simple as that.

“When we go out to eat, as customers, we don’t see what’s going on in the kitchen and food storage areas. Our environmental health officers get to see it all and I’m very grateful for the work they do keeping us safe.

“I’m very pleased with the outcome of this prosecution. It sends a clear message to other businesses that there are consequences when public health isn’t taken seriously.

“Since a family member was made extremely ill because of poor food hygiene in a restaurant some years ago, I have always checked the food hygiene rating of food establishments before giving them my business and I’d urge others to do the same.”

Dixy Chicken in Bradford Street ceased trading in October 2021.

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