Ex-manager of 'extremely dirty' Telford Chinese restaurant hit with £11,000 fine
The former manager of a filthy Chinese restaurant has been fined £11,000 for running a kitchen with mouldy fridge seals, marinated chicken left in open containers and food spattered on walls.
The judge who sentenced him saw photographs from the restaurant and said it was the worst such case he had ever seen.
Telford Oriental in Overdale was inspected twice this year and found to have "extremely poor" hygiene standards.
The first inspection on January 31 actually took place after Telford & Wrekin Council's environmental health officers visited the restaurant for a gas safety check.
Once they saw the extent of the poor hygiene in the kitchen the focus of the inspection changed, Telford Magistrates Court heard this week.
Jian He, 37, had been the registered manager since 2015 and was present for the inspection.
Julie Fisher prosecuted the case on behalf of Telford & Wrekin Council and read out the long list of shortcomings the inspectors found during their visit.
She told the court of food spatters on walls and on equipment, rice cookers and other containers left on the floor, and an open container with a scoop lying in it.
Inspectors found mould-covered seals in the doors of fridges and freezers, food debris on walls, floors and work surfaces, and even a greasy cardboard box that was used to store prawn crackers.
"The general condition of the kitchen was extremely dirty," said Miss Fisher.
"Workers were not wearing clean protective clothing. It was available but they only put it on when instructed to do so."
The hand wash basin in the kitchen had no soap and was full of utensils which had to be removed before an inspector could wash her hands.
The restaurant was given a hygiene rating of 1 and Mr He was told to make "major improvements" before re-inspection.
The follow-up appointment was in March, and inspectors found "very little improvement", said Miss Fisher.
Mr He was served with a prohibition notice for the business and later interviewed under caution.
He accepted that the standards at his restaurant were "extremely poor".
This week he pleaded guilty to 11 charges of breaking food safety regulations and was fined £1,000 for each one.
They included nine offences of contravening European Union hygiene rules, and two charges of failing to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The latter two charges relate to trailing cables that presented a trip hazard and an electrical switch that had an exposed faceplate.
Mr He was represented in court by Clare Stephens, who told the court that the restaurant was suffering staff shortages at the time of the inspections.
"Mr He has pleaded guilty, he fully accepts the offences that he faces and the fact that standards have fallen far below what the general public would expect," she said.
"He has been cooperative with the council throughout."
Management of the restaurant has since passed to Mr He's partner, who has facilitated a deep clean of the kitchen.
"All issues identified by the council have been addressed," said Miss Stephens.
The restaurant has since been re-inspected and given a hygiene rating of 3.
Miss Stephens said she had been told the business makes £5,000 a year.
Deputy district judge David Noble said: "I have been doing this job now for a very long time. I think this is the worst case dealing with food hygiene that I've ever come across.
"I do not for one moment believe that the business only makes £100 a week and I'm going to reflect the seriousness of the offences with the financial penalties I impose."
The defendant, of Overdale, will pay £200 a month, a rate at which he will pay off the £11,000 in the summer of 2024.
He was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,233.70 and a £170 surcharge.
Telford & Wrekin Council said this case shows the importance of the work done by its inspectors.
Angie Astley, assistant director of customer and neighbourhood services for the council said: "Cases like this show the importance of the work done by our officers in protecting the public we serve in the borough.
"Our officers carry out hundreds of inspections every year covering a number of safety issues.
"What began as a gas safety inspection became a major health and safety issue, including food hygiene.
"Anyone visiting a food business in Telford & Wrekin must feel confident that, whether it's eat in or take out, the food is stored, handled and prepared safely and hygienically."
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