for the month of January, 2018

Dunstable restaurant owner fined over 20,000

3rd of January 2018

The owner of an Indian restaurant in Dunstable High Street was fined more than £20,000 after a customer spotted a German cockroach in their pilau rice. Environmental Health officers from Central Bedfordshire Council visited the restaurant on April 12, 2017, after receiving the complaint from a customer and discovered a serious infestation of cockroaches in the kitchen to the premises.

Inspectors found a build-up of dirt, grease and food debris to the pipework throughout the premises particularly under the fridge and freezers and in difficult to reach places.

The skirting boards throughout the kitchen were also so thick with grease and dirt that the colour of the skirting boards could no longer be seen.

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served and the premises was closed with immediate effect due to the health risk to the general public.

Mohammed Hoque, the owner of The Maharajah Restaurant, attended Luton Magistrates’ Court yesterday and pleaded guilty to six food safety offences. Mr Hoque and his business were fined a total of £20,970, including costs of £6,920 awarded to the council.

The court heard how, following the complaint of a cockroach spotted in the rice, Officers carried out an unannounced visit the following day.

The council found that Mr Hoque had not only failed to ensure that adequate procedures were in place to control pests, but the premises had also not been kept clean or in good repair, and a food safety management system had not been put in place.

Additionally, Hoque admitted that he had failed to notify the council of the change of ownership or to officially register his restaurant.

Since being closed down in April 2017, the council’s Environmental Health officers have re-inspected the premises and have had confirmation from an independent pest control contractor, who treated the infestation, that it is now under control, so the restaurant was reopened to the public.

Cllr Ian Dalgarno, portfolio holder for community services, said: “The level of the fine imposed by the court reflects the severity of the offences. This sends a clear message to other food businesses that we will not tolerate businesses who flaunt food hygiene rules. “We take food hygiene extremely seriously.

It was clear following our officers’ inspection that there were major breaches of standards, not least a serious cockroach infestation which was not being treated. “We will not hesitate to clamp down on any restaurants or business who are not meeting the right food hygiene standards.

“We want residents and visitors to Central Bedfordshire to feel comfortable in the knowledge they are eating food that is being stored and prepared in a safe and hygienic way.”

HSE food manufacturing inspections target the causes of workplace ill-health

5th of January 2018

Companies and people working in food manufacturing are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace health risks or face serious penalties.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of proactive inspections will review health and safety standards in food manufacturing businesses across the country, and the sector is being warned that a programme of unannounced inspections will begin today (2.1.18).

The inspections will focus on two of the main causes of ill-health in the sector which are currently occupational asthma from exposure to flour dust in bakeries, cake and biscuit manufacturers and grain mills and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – predominantly lower back pain and upper limb disorders from manual handling activities and repetitive tasks across the sector.

The inspection visits come as HSE recently released its Manufacturing sector plan which prioritises the reduction of cases of occupational lung disease and MSDs.

Exposure to flour dust is the UK’s second most common cited cause of occupational asthma. MSDs are the most common type of work-related illness in food manufacturing with handling injuries, accounting for around 20% of reported employee injuries (RIDDOR). HSE insists that such ill-health can be prevented when organisations have proper risk control systems in place.

The inspections will ensure measures are being taken by those responsible to protect workers against health risks and HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

HSE’s head of Manufacturing Sector John Rowe, said: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks.

HSE is calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website.

Food manufacturing companies should do the right thing by protecting workers’ health; everyone has the right to go home healthy from work.”

What's it like to eat at a chippy with one out of five for food hygiene?

22nd of January 2018

We sent our reviewer out to see what it was like to eat at a place told to make MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS on food hygiene. Here's what we found;-

Whether you're grabbing a quick burger, or splashing out on a lavish sit down meal at restaurant, most diners expect their food to have been prepared in a clean kitchen.

And that's why all businesses are required to display their food hygiene ratings. If you look, most places that serve food to the public have a green sticker in the window, which shows how that business fared in its last inspection.

The ratings are then published by the Food Standards Agency to "help you choose where to eat out or shop for food by telling you how seriously the business takes their food hygiene standards."

And surely that has to be a good thing, right? No one wants to be left with a dodgy belly after eating food they've bought after all.

Businesses given a zero and one star ratings are demanded to make 'urgent' or 'major' improvements to their hygiene standards - and let's face it, most of us would want to know if we're about to eat something from a place which has 'low standards' when it comes to cleanliness.

Whenever we run a report on a single food hygiene ratings here at Lincolnshire Live, we give the business concerned a telephone call to see if there's anything they want to say about it. (It can sometimes be a bit of an awkward conversation.)

But one of the things businesses owners often tell us about their hygiene ratings is that their food preparation areas are perfectly clean, but they were given a rating of 'one out of five' for not having their paperwork up to date.

And what's more, the hygiene ratings don't actually tell you how good the food tastes from a premises with one, or zero stars.

So, always up for a challenge, we thought we'd send our Food Monster reviewer out go out and order some food from a business with a zero food hygiene rating to see what it was actually like.

And at random we chose the Sunny Chippy in Bardney.

As the name spells out, its a fish and chip shop, with a sit down dining area inside. It was given a one star rating in August 2017 and was told by the inspector to make improvements to its 'hygiene food handling'.

This means the Food Standards Agency says this business needs to get better at it's 'hygienic handling of food including preparation, cooking, re-heating, cooling and storage'. Crikey.

What's worse, the establishment, which was known as Sunny's Plaice up until about a year ago, was also told to make major improvements in its 'Management of Food Safety'. This definitely sounded disturbing,

But all perusing the Food Standards Agency website tells you about this area of the inspection is that it's to make sure the business has 'systems or checks in place to ensure that food sold or served is safe to eat, evidence that staff know about food safety, and the food safety officer has confidence that standards will be maintained in future'. That could be any number of things, including bad paperwork.

Still, it didn't fill me with a huge amount of confidence as I set out to try to the food at Sunny's on a chilly January night.

I was fearing the worst to be honest and was starting to wonder if my boss had sent me out on a job that would inevitably result in me having to call in sick as a result of a meal I'd eaten the night before.

But, as I've been responsible for some of the reports on food hygiene ratings myself, I felt I sort of owed it to all the businesses with poor hygiene ratings that I've reported on to give the food a go at at least one of their premises. So to the Sunny Chippy it was.

You might have fond memories of rushing down to your local as a nipper and picking up your family's special weekly treat, and you've probably forgotten some of them had cobwebs in the corner and grease on the floor.

When I sat down inside the small restaurant off Station Road my eyes immediately started to wander round the room to see if there was any evidence of lack of cleanliness. I expected to see some sign of this one-star rating staring me in the face.

I checked over the knife and fork, had a sneaky look underneath my table and stared at the ground in a bid to spot any imperfections. (We once did a story about a diner who found a dead rat under their chair.)

But I was pleasantly surprised to discover absolutely nothing. Definitely no huge rodents and in fact, the place was almost spotless. Yes there were a few crumbs on the seat next to me but it would be harsh to get emotional about it.

I've sat in places with much higher food hygiene ratings and found lip marks on my glass or bits of dried food on my fork.

The service was swift too.

I ordered myself a coke, cod and chips and a buttered roll and was tucking in to all three within 10 minutes. Again, I had a good look at everything looking for a sign of weakness, but I had no complaints.

The food itself was good if unspectacular. I thought £1.95 for a bottle of coke was a bit rich but otherwise I was mostly satisfied.

The chips were fine though nothing particularly special - but the cod was a real treat. I got a healthy portion too. I went for the normal size and I could barely finish it.


Across the room I spied another punter had gone for the XL and I can confirm it really is gigantic and worth an extra two quid if you've got a bigger wallet and an even bigger stomach.

But there was one thing that was a bit poor, my bun... if you can call it that. It was a burger bap, a dried up, rock-hard, burger bap.

Perhaps this wasevidence of Sunny's need to improve the way it stores the food? But while no one wants a slightly stale bread roll, it was hardly the greatest of sins.

And that was that. On the plus side, the fear I had surrounding the cleanliness of the facilities was unfounded.

But on the other hand I didn't think the food was up to much. A quick word on the service - it was great, everyone was friendly and had a smile on their face.

I can't say I loved Sunny Chippy in Bardney but despite what you might read on the Food Standards Agency website, it might still be worth a punt.

And I've had absolutely no ill effects whatsoever from eating there. Take that from it what you will!