Significant fines for rodent-infested takeaway

The former owners of a dirty, rodent-infested Indian takeaway in Mansfield have been ordered to pay a combined total of more than £12,000 for food hygiene failings.

Abul Hussain (51) of Montrose Avenue, Luton, and Rahul Khan (49) of Mill Field Road, Luton, were each ordered to pay a fine of £5,000, a surcharge of £100 and costs of £1,059.18 for offences relating to the Indian Ocean, 88-90 Stockwell Gate, Mansfield.

They appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday (28 August 2019) where they both pleaded guilty to five charges under food safety and hygiene legislation.

The charges, brought by Mansfield District Council, were for failing to keep the food premises clean, failing to protect food from contamination, failing to have adequate procedures in place for controlling pests, exposing packaging to a risk of contamination and failing to have a food safety management system in place. 

The charges arose after the council’s environmental health officers carried out a food hygiene inspection at the Indian Ocean on 25 September 2018. Following the inspection, the pair agreed to voluntarily close the premises, which received a food hygiene rating of zero.

During the inspection, Abul Hussain was unable to provide officers with a food safety management policy, despite having received advice from council officers a month previously. 

Officers saw rodent droppings on the floor and on shelves, there were holes in the wall and ceiling and they saw rodent bait boxes. A pest control record showed that there had been evidence of rats a month before the officers visited.

They also saw a bag of rotten potatoes, a dirty food probe thermometer, the fridge door handle and the seal to the chest freezer were dirty, the upper cooker and inside of the microwave was dirty, there was a dirty chopping board, the area around the sink was dirty and knives were being kept on the floor.

They found packaging which appeared to have been gnawed by rodents and packaging lids contaminated with rodent hair.

Foodstuffs were found in open containers and raw meat was stored in the same style of containers that were used for salad.

Abul Hussain and Rahul Khan’s solicitor told the court that on taking over the business they were “immediately overwhelmed, there was a rat infestation and they failed to get it under control. They did their best - it wasn’t good enough.”

He confirmed that they were no longer involved in any food business.

Sentencing Hussain and Khan, District Judge Taaffe said: “You are both intelligent men and both aware that the fact that this business was in a state does not absolve you of responsibility to comply with all relevant legislation.

“Indian Ocean on Stockwell Gate was a property that provided the public with food, it was imperative that the highest standards are insisted upon in terms of preparation standards and hygiene standards – simply put, to avoid the risk of serious harm to members of the public using those services.” 

He went on to say: “There was a rodent infestation in virtually the whole of the premises, holes in the walls, food was not properly stored. It was a disaster waiting to happen.”

Cllr Amanda Fisher, Portfolio Holder for Safer Communities and Wellbeing, said: "The council supports and works with businesses wherever possible to make sure they comply with food safety law. We will however always take appropriate legal action if serious breaches of food safety law are found and public safety is put at risk.

“It is reassuring to know that 81% of all food outlets in the district have a hygiene rating of four or five, and the vast majority (92%) have a satisfactory rating of three or more.

“I would urge customers to check hygiene ratings online at (link opens in a new window) and to report any concerns they may have with food premises in the district to our Environmental Health team on 01623 463463.”

Published: August 30th 2019