Walsall Council has successfully prosecuted the owner of a local pizza takeaway for serious food and hygiene offences that centre on a filthy restaurant kitchen that was littered with mouse droppings.
Mr Muhammed Abdul Moueed Khan of ‘Pizza Cottage’ Caldmore Road, Walsall admitted 10 separate food and hygiene offences. His filthy business premises posed such a risk to customers that he today received a custodial prison sentence at Wolverhampton Crown Court. Khan, who appeared before Judge Barry Berlin this morning, will now serve a six month prison sentence to run concurrently on each of the ten offences. The Court also ordered a Hygiene Prohibition Order which imposes a prohibition on him participating in the management of any food business until further order.
The Court case was heard over one and a half hours and the Judge was presented with photographic evidence gathered by Walsall Council Environmental Health officers. Some of the evidence shown in Court dated back to January of last year and proved that mice faeces could be seen on various food preparation surfaces at the takeaway. Rodent contamination was also widespread near to, or directly by, ovens, microwaves and grills and amongst food storage areas. Droppings were thought to have contaminated many cooking utensils and customers’ drinking straws and posed a cross contamination risk to open spice containers. Kitchen door handles and seating areas were also caked in thick layers of grease and grime, the floor tiles were cracked and ingrained with embedded dirt.
At today’s sentencing hearing, the Judge also read out a string of other offences to which Khan had already pleaded guilty. These included;
• Preparing and serving food for human consumption in and from a filthy kitchen area.
• Having no food management systems in place.
• Failing to provide staff with hand drying facilities at the wash hand basin.
• Failure to provide any evidence that staff had been trained.
• Failure to provide appropriate work clothes to his staff.
The Crown Court also heard that since May 2013, the time when Khan had taken over the Pizza Business, he had failed to clean up his act. He was undeterred by numerous council warnings and interventions and had not complied with the standard set by Environmental Health officers.
Mr Khan had already entered a guilty plea at Wolverhampton Magistrates court last month (22 March). The magistrates who heard the prosecution case decided that their powers did not reflect the seriousness of the 10 offences and the case was recommended for a sentencing hearing at Crown Court.
Today’s sentencing comes on the back of the earlier food safety and hygiene breaches. In his summing up at the Crown Court, Judge Barry Berlin said: “These are very serious breaches. You put profit before safety and this has gone on for years. This was an operation carried out knowing that the law was being broken on a daily basis and you were putting paying customers at serious risk.”
David Elrington, Regulatory Services Manager at Walsall Council said: “We are pleased that both the Magistrates and Crown courts have supported this prosecution which has now resulted in a prison sentence for this man. His breaches demonstrate a deliberate and flagrant disregard for the even the most minimum standards of safety.”
“Environmental Health regulations are in place to protect the public. We always work with businesses to help them understand their responsibilities, but we will also pursue them through the courts if they fail to take these important responsibilities seriously.”
“Mr Khan knew exactly what was required of him as a food business operator.”
NOTES TO EDITORS