Takeway fined £11,000 for food hygiene offences

The owner of a takeaway business in Northwich has been fined £11,170 for food hygiene offences.

On October 19 at West Cheshire Magistrates’ Court both the company and sole director, Abu Khaled Choudhury, pleaded guilty to 11 offences under food safety and hygiene legislation at Vama Express on Kingsmead Square.

The court heard that, despite three unannounced inspections and three revisits from Environmental Health Officers, the Northwich premises remained in a “filthy condition with inadequate food hygiene practices”.

As well as poor standards of cleanliness, officers found unacceptable risk of cross-contamination to ready-to-eat foods, and a failure to implement a documented food safety management system, which is a legal requirement to ensure the production of safe food.

Due to the severity of the conditions found the council also requested the court to consider the need for a prohibition order on Choudhury.

The premises was given a food hygiene rating of zero, the lowest possible score on the food hygiene rating scheme, meaning urgent improvement was needed.

In sentencing, the chair of the Magistrates expressed her concern that Choudhury had operated the business without the level of required knowledge in respect of food safety and staff were not adequately trained.

Vama Express was ordered to pay a total fine of £5500 (no costs), while Choudhury was fined £3520 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1980 along with a victim surcharge of £170 – a total of £11,170.  He was also issued with a Hygiene Protection Order for three years, prohibiting him from managing or being a director of any food business.

The council’s cabinet member for environment, Cllr Karen Shore, said: “The very poor standards in this restaurant could have had serious consequences for its customers.  For any food business the safety of customers must be their top priority. By imposing a Prohibition Order, the first for Cheshire West and Chester, the Magistrates took the view that this was a very serious case and demonstrated their concern about the lack of any effective management of the business.

”The vast majority of food establishments in Cheshire West operate to a high standard; we have a duty to the public to take effective action where others do not make the same effort.

“Officers within our Regulatory Services Team work proactively to help business owners comply with legislation and meet hygiene standards and food safety.”

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