The owners of a Thai restaurant in Liverpool have been fined more than £32,500 after pleading guilty to two food safety breaches.
Thai Leisure Group Ltd, which owns Chaoprhaya, based in Liverpool One, was also made to pay £4,207 in costs to the council and a £120 victim surcharge.
The Magistrates Court was told that on Tuesday, 15 March 2016, Environmental Health Officers (EHO) from Liverpool City Council carried out an unannounced, routine inspection and found:
Extensive mouse droppings: to the rear of a fridge; on shelving in food preparation area opposite; in main kitchen on shelving containing food preparation equipment; on floor by sweeping brush and on electrical cabling and sockets.
A dead mouse was found in the area housing the motor of the fridge.
Missing ceiling tiles above refrigeration equipment, and within the void a number of mouse droppings on the suspended ceiling tiles and on top of the upright fridge located below the missing tiles.
Two glue boards with a number of decomposing mice attached within the ceiling void above a food preparation area within the kitchen.
A build-up of grease on the cabling and surfaces of the ceiling tiles.
Various uncovered foods were on display and in various stages of preparation in the main food preparation areas of the ground floor kitchen.
A build-up of food debris and grease was discovered on floor surfaces and various equipment surfaces in the kitchen including shelving and cooking equipment.
The front preparation counter unclean with food debris having collected in the interior parts behind the front grille.
The restaurant’s own daily pest check did not offer an accurate description of the pest activity within the premises.
The build-up of food debris within the kitchen was also indicative of a lack of effective, routine cleaning and had the effect of attracting pests to food preparation areas.
The findings resulted in the immediate closure of the premises, with the co-operation of the manager, due to the imminent risk to public health.
Officers were also provided with an Audit report dated 29 January, 2016 from Southall Audits, an independent consultancy company instructed by Chaophraya. Southall’s report noted they were “very concerned” that the pest issue was “escalating” and warned that without suitable pest proofing and cleaning “if an EHO was to find the evidence we found of rodent activity during our visit, there would be no question that the business would be closed and subsequently prosecuted.”
The report even recommended the restaurant close and conduct a deep clean of the entire premises.
Officers were invited to re-visit the restaurant on 21 March. The restaurant was still closed at this stage and it was decided that conditions still presented an imminent risk to health and the restaurant wasn’t therefore permitted to re-open;
A further visit took place just a day later on 22 March and it was agreed, following that inspection, that the restaurant could re-open, conditions having improved sufficiently in the officers opinion;
The restaurant was subsequently awarded the lowest potential food hygiene rating of zero out of 5 indicating that urgent improvement was necessary;
Councillor Steve Munby, Cabinet Member for neighbourhoods, said: “The Thai Leisure Group has received a very substantial fine which reflects the extreme seriousness of these charges.
“This case sends out a strong message that substandard hygiene in any food outlet across the city will not be tolerated, and our experienced team of environmental health officers are prepared to prosecute any business who puts their customers at risk.”