Ex-Wisbech takeaway boss given £4,000 bill for hygiene offences

Court case

Court case

A former Wisbech Indian take-away boss has been left with a court bill of nearly £4,000 after admitting a string of food and hygiene offences.

Cambridge Crown Court was told today that potentially harmful cooked Tandoori chicken was not stored in a fridge, but in an open container at 20 degrees C at the Tandoori Hut in Norfolk Street.

And the court heard that other unhygienic finds at the premises run by Peterborough man Mohammad Qadeer, included cooked and fresh food stored together, a sink full of unwashed dishes left overnight, grimy cutting boards, dirty plastic containers on a shelf containing food debris, a dirty pizza slicer, unhygienic utensils and the fridge and microwave were not cleaned properly.

But prosecutor, Simon Hunka told the court : “The most important was the cooked Tandoori chicken in an open container which a probe showed had a temperature of 20 degrees C. Once bacteria grows, flies can transfer that bacteria around the kitchen. And there was a build up of food debris in other areas.”

“There was a clear risk with the chicken. It might be served later that day to an unsuspecting customer.”

Mr Hunka, prosecuting for Fenland District Council said a diner could contract salmonella and added that in 2015 the Food Standards Agency reported that 20,000 people a year received hospital treatment due to food-borne illnesses.

“It would be obvious not to leave chicken in the warm with no lid on. And food should be stored at less than eight degrees C,” he said.

Qadeer, 35, of Cromwell Road, Peterborough, pleaded guilty to five offences of failing to comply with EU food safety and hygiene regulations. They related to the temperature of the chicken; lack of cleanliness; how raw ingredients were stored; lack of staff training; and not having proper procedures in place.

The court heard that Qadeer was no longer in charge at the Tandoori Hut but still worked there.

Recorder Jeremy Benson QC fined Qadeer a total of £1,500 and ordered him to pay the full local authority costs of £2,319 within 12 months or face 35 days’ imprisonment in default. He also has to pay a £120 surcharge.

As he passed sentence the Recorder said: “The regulations are there to protect the public. When they go to a takeaway they are entitled to expect that the food they buy is safe, particularly the storage and cooking of chicken.

“Salmonella from chicken can be not only unpleasant but serious, so breaches such as these are taken seriously.”

The prosecutor said a Fenland District Council environmental health inspector visited the restaurant on 9 September 2014 and Qadeer, who had overall responsibility, was informed of a number of contraventions. It was given the lowest rating of one out of five. Staff had also not received food safety training, he added.

By the next visit on 16 October little progress had been made and on 21 October 2014 a hygiene improvement notice was served.

On 19 November 2014 more time was given and by 19 January 2015 matters had improved and the officer was satisfied the notice had been complied with.

But, said the prosecutor, when the inspector returned on 2 September 2015 the majority of these offences were uncovered.

The prosecutor said that after the first warnings Qadeer had done what he needed to do to satisfy the officer and since he had passed that test.

But he continued : “Standards had slipped again.”

Mitigating on his own behalf through an Urdu interpreter, Qadeer said he had sold Tandoori Hut to a cousin although he still worked there part-time.

“I would like to say sorry for the things that have happened. I couldn’t run the business properly. I didn’t do anything intentionally or on purpose,” he said.