Live cockroaches and mice, rodents’ droppings, unacceptable cleaning standards and poor structural conditions saw the manager of a central Croydon restaurant found guilty of 19 food and safety offences.
Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court heard that, in fewer than four years’ trading, Babylon Inn, at the junction of North End and Tamworth Road, had been subject to five food hygiene and safety visits.
After hearing detailed testimony from Croydon Council’s food safety team, District Judge Stone ruled against Hend Hamude’s assertions that she was not the restaurant’s food business operator.
Her husband, Dr Mardan Mahmood – based at Lewisham Hospital and with a private surgery in Croydon – is a director of the company that owned Babylon Inn. He had earlier pleaded guilty to 19 food safety offences on behalf of himself and 36 offences on behalf of the company.
The court was told that, while carrying out a routine inspection in July 2013, food safety offers found a number of breaches of hygiene regulations and that standards were very poor.
In addition to the lack of a food safety management system, poor standards of cleaning and bad structural repair were evident in the kitchen, preparation and storage rooms in the basement. There was an ongoing active infestation of rodents, with mouse and rat droppings found throughout the kitchen and food storage areas in the basement, and a live mouse was seen in the small food preparation area in the basement.
With an imminent risk to public health, it was decided the premises should close until that risk was removed.
Returning a week later, officers found that Hamude had carried out only sufficient of the pest-proofing measures to allow the business to reopen, but had failed to carry out a number of other required works.
A further visit, in April 2014, revealed continuous breaches of the food hygiene regulations, and additional health and safety contraventions. Mahmood had given assurances that the structural works had been completed, but the finish to the basement food preparation and storage areas was found to be of poor quality.
The standard of cleaning throughout the kitchen, food preparation and storage areas was very poor and similar to that of the previous July’s visit.
Evidence of German cockroaches was found in a food storage room, the food safety management system was incomplete and had not been practically implemented. Poor food-handling practices were observed, and health and safety hazards were identified, including electrical safety issues.
And, a month later, a customer reported seeing a cockroach in the restaurant’s dining area, as he ate a meal with his daughter.
Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for communities, safety and justice
“Such appalling conditions in an establishment serving food to members of the public, on what is arguably Croydon’s busiest shopping street, is completely unacceptable.
“The full weight of the law should be brought down on those responsible, while others serving the public should take heed and realise that such flagrant disregard of the food safety laws will not be tolerated in Croydon.”
Sentencing on Mahmood, Hamude and Babylon Inn Ltd was adjourned to 2 November.