Repeatedly ignoring food safety advice has cost the owner of a Norbury restaurant more than £24,000 and seen him banned from managing a food business after four inspections found no improvement to filthy conditions in the kitchen and food-storage areas.
Riaz ul Hassan Sabir appeared at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (14) having earlier admitted eight food safety offences.
Officers of the council’s food safety team visited Mirch Masala, in London Road, Norbury, in October 2013 and issued three food hygiene improvement notices after finding dirt, food debris and grease on the floor and walls in food preparation and storage areas, and no evidence of a food safety management system being in operation.
Returning two months later, the officers found that the notices had not been complied with, and they noted a catalogue of contraventions of food safety regulations.
In the food-preparation room, they found:
- the tiled floor was thick with ingrained dirt;
- black mould under the shelving unit and in the wall/floor junctions;
- dirty food containers;
- slurry/dirty water pooling on the floor;
- a hole in the wall covered with a food container lid taped in place; and
- dirty cooking pots stored on shelves covered in black mould and congealed grease.
The walk-in chiller was found to have:
- thick, congealed food debris on the door handle;
- a dense layer of grease and congealed food around the door seal;
- filthy walls;
- uncovered food stored immediately beneath the dirty, stained and damaged chiller motor unit;
- food stored in dirty containers on the floor; and
- precooked food that was not date coded.
There was also a range of issues concerning the freezers, unwashed cleaning cloths, soiled cooking equipment, layers of congealed food on work surfaces, dirty chopping boards, empty hand-washing soap dispensers, missing extractor filters, and general evidence of a failure to implement a regime of safe food preparation and handling, and cleaning of equipment, walls and floors.
In Sabir’s absence, a manager accepted the findings noted in the inspection report at the end of the second visit.
A third inspection was conducted in June of last year, and again Sabir was represented by a manager who agreed the findings of yet more violations of food safety regulations, including rice that had been cooked almost five hours previously, stored at a temperature that would support the growth of bacteria and then reheated as required in a dirty and stained plastic bowl.
Other concerns included:
- evidence of rat droppings;
- dried raw meat juices covering a metal food-preparation table;
- a food blender the dirty base unit of which was clogged with old food;
- food stored in dirty containers directly on the floor;
- raw meat stored next to vegetables;
- a microwave that was very dirty both inside and out;
- food-encrusted woks left sitting on the dirty floor; and
- dirty and heavily scored chopping boards.
During a fourth inspection, last September, officers were told that Sabir was no longer involved in the restaurant and that Adil Murad Khan was the new owner. However, it was subsequently established that Sabir was, in fact, still the owner, and had been throughout the period of the inspections.
The conditions in the restaurant, across many of the areas previously found to be of serious concern, had shown little sign of improvement, with continuing evidence of filthy conditions within the kitchen, food-prep areas and refuse bin storage spaces.
Jo Negrini, the council’s executive director, place, said: “It almost beggars belief that in this day and age, with knowledge of the need for exemplary food hygiene more widespread than it’s ever been, a restaurateur is prepared to allow his establishment to sink to these appalling depths, despite repeated warnings.
“He took a cavalier attitude toward hygiene and food safety, and ultimately put his customers’ health at risk.
“Our food safety team has shown dogged determination in bringing this case to court and securing a prosecution that should act as a stark warning to all premises serving food to the public.”