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13 December 2013, 06:34
A fast food restaurant owner has been ordered to pay more than £9,000 after being found guilty of 11 food hygiene offences including storing food in a way which could be harmful to the public.
Tariq Mahmood, the owner of Chicken Paradise, 333 Lincoln Road, Peterborough, was found guilty of 11 food hygiene offences at Huntingdon Magistrates' Court on 5 December 2013.
It followed a number of inspections by Peterborough City Council environmental health officers which revealed that food in the premises was being stored in a way which could be harmful to consumers.
Environmental health officers carried out a routine food hygiene inspection on 23 January 2013 and found a number of contraventions of food hygiene legislation.
The premises were in a filthy condition, there was a lack of knowledge and understanding of food safety matters among staff, raw burgers were being stored next to open ready-to-eat cheese and cooked foods were found to be at a dangerously low temperature.
Hygiene improvement notices were served requiring a thorough deep clean of the whole premises and for food handlers to be trained in food hygiene matters.
A number of further visits were made by officers between January and August 2013 and the premises were repeatedly found to be in a dirty condition, cooked foods found to be below the required temperature, evidence of cross contamination between raw and ready-to-eat foods were witnessed and notices were not complied with after ample opportunity had been given to Mahmood to comply.
Mahmood failed to attend court having pleaded guilty on 8 October to one offence of failing to provide materials for cleaning hands at the premises. He pleaded not guilty or did not indicate a plea to ten other food hygiene offences including failing to keep food premises clean, failing to keep equipment that comes into contact with food in a clean condition, failure to ensure that waste water drained away so as not to contaminate food and failing to keep cooked foods under adequate temperature control.
The trial went ahead in Mahmood's absence and Magistrates found him guilty on all counts. He was fined a total of £6,400 and ordered to pay costs of £2,685.40.
Lisa Borley, Environmental Health Officer at Peterborough City Council, said: "We always work with food business operators to offer help and guidance on how to comply with legal requirements and take a graduated approach to enforcement. Prosecution really is the last resort.
"However, Mr Mahmood was given several opportunities to comply and several visits were made in order to point out what he needed to do. The fact that over the course of these visits the same contraventions were repeatedly found left us with no option but to prosecute.
"Hopefully this will send the message out to other food business operators that we will not tolerate ongoing breaches of hygiene requirements and that businesses who choose not to comply will be held accountable for their actions. Our primary concern is to protect public health and ensure that residents and visitors in Peterborough are not put at risk by the food they eat from our local businesses."