The boss of a Bradford fast food restaurant has been jailed for six months, suspended for a year, after a judge branded the cockroach and mice-infested kitchen as a danger to the public.
Shaukat Zaman Khan, then owner of Rafiqs Takeaway Ltd in Woodroyd Road, West Bowling, “wilfully” ignored repeated warnings from Bradford Council environmental health officers and was “unable to maintain even the most basic standards of food hygiene”, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday.
Khan had pleaded guilty to nine breaches of food hygiene regulations at a hearing before Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court in December.
Sentencing him, Judge John Potter said: “The conditions in your business were disgusting and had been prevalent for some period of time.
“There was evidence of cockroach and mice infestation at the same time members of the public were buying food from the premises.
“You disregarded concerted attempts by the local authority to help you and wilfully carried on regardless of these warnings. Although other personal responsibilites may have taken you elsewhere, as owner and managing director, the buck stopped with you.”
Khan was also ordered to perform 250 hours unpaid community work, to be completed in the next 12 months, and told to pay £5,000 costs within 28 days.
The court was told how Khan owns two houses, valued at approximately £75,000 each, as director of a property business, and when he asked for the costs to be paid in instalments, Judge Potter told him: “You are a man of considerable wealth, the fee will be paid within 28 days.”
Freddy Apfel, prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, said a complaint from a customer who had found a hair in a chicken meal bought from the takeaway had led to an investigation by the authority's environmental health department.
He described how, on visits on August 15 and September 12, 2012, officers found evidence of cockroach and mice infestations, filthy hand and food-contact surfaces, inadequate hand-washing facilities in food preparation areas, broken floor and ceiling tiles, and a lack of hot running water in one of the kitchen sinks.
Mr Apfel added that staff who were left to work unsupervised at the takeaway had received no formal basic food hygiene training, and were unaware of the correct temperatures for storing and preparing pre-cooked meals, leading to food being kept at temperatures deemed “high-risk” for the growth of bacteria that can cause food-poisoning.
Khan, of Lindley Road, Little Horton, also failed to register his business with the Council until August 2012, despite being sole owner since November 2008, and was said to have been put on notice regarding hygiene issues as far back as February 2009.
The court was told that despite Khan selling the restaurant for £7,000 in August 2013, he remains involved in the business, earning £150 per a week as a chef and a consultant on contacts and suppliers.
His limited company was dissolved in December.
In mitigation, Khan’s solicitor advocate, Sobia Ahmed, said that while it was “perhaps more good fortune than design that there no public health consequences”, her client had tried to comply with regulations and not demonstrated any deliberate neglect.
After the case, Councillor Andrew Thornton, Bradford Council’s executive member for environment, said: “We are always willing to work with business owners to help them improve, but where there is such flagrant disregard for basic cleanliness, as well as evidence of vermin infestation, we will not hesitate to put those responsible before the courts for prosecution.
“The health of anyone who uses a food business in Bradford should not be put at risk, and we work very hard to try to ensure that high standards are achieved and maintained.”