Saturday, October 1, 2022

Chinese takeaway owner pleads guilty after rat droppings, dirt and mould exposed by food hygiene inspectors

A Chinese takeaway owner has pleaded guilty to a number of food hygiene offences after an inspection found the premises to be in an unacceptable condition.

Environmental health officers from North East Lincolnshire Council carried out a routine food hygiene inspection at China House in Pasture Street, Grimsby, on 17 November 2021.

Officers discovered rat droppings throughout the premises, along with gnawed boxes, urine pools and pest entry points. They also found dirty cooking utensils, soiled tea towels used to cover food, mouldy food storage containers, poorly located defrosting raw meat, and a chopping board used to prepare raw and ready to eat food items.

Cleaning throughout the premises was poor, with build-ups of grease, grime, filth, debris and mould.

High risk food was being left outside of temperature control due to a lack of space in the refrigerators.

Mr Wen Yi Cao, 50, of Pasture Street, Grimsby, attended Grimsby Magistrates’ Court on Friday 15 July where he pleaded guilty for the following 13 offences:

  1. Placing on the market food which was unsafe in that it was unfit for human consumption
  2. Failed to put in place, implement and maintain a permanent procedure or procedures based on the ‘Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points’ principles
  3. Failed to ensure that food handlers were supervised and instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activity
  4. Failed to ensure that suitable temperature-controlled handling and storage conditions of sufficient capacity for maintaining foodstuffs at appropriate temperatures and designed to allow those temperatures to be monitored, were provided
  5. Failed to have adequate procedures in place to control pests
  6. Failed to provide an adequate number of washbasins designated for cleaning hands
  7. Failed to keep the premises clean and maintained in good repair and condition
  8. Failed to ensure that foodstuffs to be held or served at a chilled temperature were cooled as quickly as possible following the heat-processing stage, to a temperature which does not result in a risk to health
  9. Failed to store and ensure that conveyances and/or containers used for transporting foodstuffs were kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition to protect foodstuffs from contamination
  10. Failed to store materials used for wrapping and packaging of food in such a manner that they are not exposed to a risk of contamination
  11. Failed to ensure that all articles, fittings and equipment with which food comes into contact were kept in good order, repair and condition as to minimise any risk of contamination
  12. Failed to ensure that all articles, fittings and equipment with which food comes into contact were effectively cleaned and, where necessary, disinfected to avoid any risk of contamination
  13. Failed at all stages of production, processing and distribution to protect food against any contamination likely to render the food unfit for human consumption

Due to the severity of the offences and the presence of an imminent risk to health, alongside a poor history of compliance, it was decided that prosecution was the most appropriate course of action. The premises was also closed down by officers temporarily at the time due to the imminent risk to health. After working with Mr Wen Yi Cao to secure improvements, China House was subsequently re-inspected by council officers in January 2022 where conditions had improved substantially and it achieved a food hygiene rating of three, indicating broad compliance with food law.

Yi Cao was fined £358, ordered to pay £850 in court costs and a victim surcharge of £36.

Councillor Ron Shepherd, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said: “I am pleased appropriate action has been taken and he has been brought before the courts. The number of food hygiene offences is alarming. Businesses operating in such a poor manner will not be tolerated.

“Our environmental health officers work hard to ensure the public’s safety and also give food business operators the direction and information they need to comply with food safety legislation. We need to protect consumers from businesses that put people’s health at risk.”

The chair of the bench at Grimsby Magistrates’ Court commented how this was a “very disturbing case” and that the defendant had “a duty to make sure that what you are serving is safe.”

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