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Cockroach-infested curry house prosecuted

28 May 2013

Cockroachinfested curry house prosecuted

The Bucks Free Press reported 25th May 2013:

A CURRY house which served up cockroaches in its food has been forced to pay out over £2500 after being prosecuted for three separate food safety offences.

The Radhuni in Flackwell Heath was investigated in August last year after a customer got more than they bargained for and found one of the insects in their takeaway.

Wycombe District Council’s Environmental Health team closed the business after the incident due to the imminent risk posed by an infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen.

The restaurant on Straight Bit had received at least one complaint from customers before and was found to be trading despite the infestation.

The owners, Mr Akthoraz Miah of Green Crescent, Flackwell Heath and the company Raj Kamal Restaurant Limited pleaded guilty to three offences.

The restaurant was fined £1000, and ordered to pay a further £1500 in costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Aylesbury Magistrates Court was shown evidence including a jar of cockroaches taken from the restaurant, and heard that the premises had a poor history of compliance with food safety law.

This included several hygiene improvement notices being served on The Radhuni and previous pest problems with rats.

Aggravating factors included the fact that Mr Miah and his staff had received food hygiene training and were therefore fully aware of the health risk posed by cockroaches.

Despite this they chose to continue trading instead of eliminating the health risk to customers at their 110-seater restaurant.

The Radhuni were contacted for a response to the prosecution, but no comment had been received at the time of going to press.

Councillor Jean Teesdale WDC cabinet member for wellbeing and neighbourhoods said: "People need to be able to trust that the food they are served has been stored and prepared in clean and safe conditions.

"We work hard to ensure that decent food hygiene standards are maintained in food establishments."

The Radhuni currently has a rating of two, which means ‘improvement necessary’.

The Food Safety System Editor Comments:

This restaurant has been extremely fortunate to have been awarded a food hygiene rating of 2, in cases such as this it would be typical for the business to be awarded a O simply because they have been found to be in breach of the law.

Perhaps the most important aspect to note from this case is the fact that both owners and workers had received food hygiene training and therefore should be aware of the health risks associated with pests and pest infestation.

It is a common misconception with small businesses that by achieving food safety qualifications it can absolve them from having to worry about food safety issues. It is as if the assumption is that by completing a course individuals are somehow immune from problems relating to food hygiene and standards. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The purpose of training is to educate individuals so that they can identify practices and situations that can compromise food safety and effect change to minimise risk and improve standards.

From experience we have often been informed that, despite clear problems with food safety, owners of food businesses believe that by addressing the training requirement alone they no longer have any food safety issues to resolve. They are then quite shocked when they only achieve a food hygiene rating of 1 or 2.

The presence of cockroaches represents a significant food safety risk, and the fact that this business actually managed to serve one up along with a meal for a consumer perhaps shows the level of infestation present. If a single cockroach is discovered it is highly unlikely that it will be the only one present within the premises and a little of bit of digging behind units or equipment will reveal a significant number.

It cannot be emphasised enough that all food businesses need to have a set of pest control rules and procedures as part of their food safety management system. This includes establishing a contract with a registered pest control company but more importantly, owners or managers of businesses should be regularly inspecting the premises themselves for the signs of pest activity. A contract with a pest controller that includes monthly visits may be seen as a good level of coverage, however, pest infestation can easily occur between visits, therefore it remains a responsibility of the business to inspect for pests in between times.

Remember, cockroaches will spread disease and contaminate food very easily, their presence at any level should alert businesses to take immediate action and the premises should be thoroughly cleaned to remove any possible contamination from surfaces and equipment.

You can find out more about the requirements for pest control within food businesses by clicking here or logging onto www.thefoodsafetysystem.com/yourbusiness and follow the links to Pest Control.

Thefoodsafetysystem.com is the only online creation and management tool that helps owners or managers to quickly and easily develop their own HACCP based food safety management solution in line with the requirements of their business and current law. You can find out more about how the system works by clicking here. Alternatively you can email info@thefoodsafetysystem.com or call 0845 475 0335 to discuss your requirements.  

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