Filthy conditions and hygiene breaches including a lack of a staff toilet were uncovered at a Bradford fast food restaurant in a swoop by environmental health officers, a court heard.
Raw meat was found to be kept next to fresh food and a collandar of thawing chicken was found to be dripping on to cleaning sponges at Fresh Fillingz in Duckworth Lane.
Mohammed Ayaz Rashid, 46, then sole owner of the business, appeared before Bradford and Keighley magistrates yesterday after pleading guilty to a total of ten charges on Tuesday – the day before he was due to face trial.
Abdul Shakoor, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, said the eight food hygiene and two health and safety charges related to findings made during an inspection of the property on January 23 last year.
Rashid, of Granville Road, Frizinghall, also asked for a further ten food hygiene breaches, identified on subsequent visits to the business in July 2013 and January this year, to be taken into consideration by the court.
Details of the charges included numerous food cross-contamination issues, food being prepared on a freezer top, and cleanliness problems including a dirty fridge, grease-encrusted air filters above the cooker, and a lack of disinfectant to clean work surfaces.
Mr Shakoor said staff had not been adequately trained in food hygiene procedures, and that Rashid had failed to comply with a hygiene notice, telling the court he “showed little regard for food safety in his business”.
The court also heard that Rashid had breached health and safety regulations due to a lack of suitable handwashing facilities for staff who had to use a toilet, kept padlocked, at premises two doors away.
Burned-out plug sockets, described as being in a dangerous state, were also found to be in use.
Shahid Ali, mitigating for Rashid, claimed his client had been “let down” by staff left in charge of the business.
“He did train staff, but due to financial difficulties, they turned against him,” Mr Ali told the court.
Mr Ali added that Rashid was a “broken person”, who had suffered severe depression due to his “difficult and dire financial situation,” which he said had started when he invested savings in another shop in Leeds Road, Bradford, with his brother-in-law, a project labelled a “catastrophe.”
Rashid was questioned by chairman of the magistrates’ bench, Philip Hunter, and said he no longer had any involvement with either business, having sold the Leeds Road outlet for £25,000 in October 2012, and transferred ownership of the Duckworth Lane shop, which he opened in 2004, to his then wife in February this year.
He said no fee had been involved in the takeover, adding that the “businesses are no-go for me now”.
A trial had been listed in the case for February 12, but was adjourned on the morning of the hearing after the court was told Rashid had been admitted to Bradford Royal Infirmary earlier that day with what was said at the time to be a suspected heart attack.
Mr Ali showed a letter to the court yesterday confirming that Rashid had attended hospital, before being subsequently discharged to his GP.
Sentencing Rashid to 270 hours of unpaid community work, Mr Hunter said it was imposed as a “direct alternative to custody” and must be carried out as directed. He also ordered Rashid to pay £1,000 prosecution costs and a £60 victim surcharge.
After the case, Steve Hartley, Bradford Council’s strategic director for environment and sport, said: “If take-away owners put the health of their customers at risk by operating from dirty kitchens then they should not be surprised to find themselves in court facing hefty penalties.”
The Duckworth Lane business was contacted by the Telegraph & Argus in March this year in response to its zero star food hygiene rating, and Balqis Begum, described as the new manager, said she had just taken over and was “working with the Council and looking forward to its next inspection visit.”
The rating has since improved to one star.