Decomposing rat found in Teignmouth restaurant
THE manager of a restaurant in Teignmouth has been fined £6,000 for cooking in a filthy kitchen.
Surfaces at the Taj Mahal were dirty and rodent droppings were found on the floor by food hygiene inspectors.
But the final straw for the council came when a decomposing rat was found in a storage room and the manager failed to improve the premises.
Magistrates in Torquay have fined Sultan Al-Mahmood for food hygiene offences and told him to pay another £773 in costs.
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The company, Taj Mahal Ltd, which is no longer running the restaurant Fore Street, has also been fined the same amount.
A prosecution was brought by Teignbridge District Council for breaching food hygiene regulations.
The court was told that evidence of poor food hygiene standards went back to 2005 when rodent droppings were found by inspectors and it was closed voluntarily in 2007 for rodent infestation.
At an inspection in June 2011, the environmental health food safety team found evidence of more rats, including droppings and a dead, decomposing rat under a staircase.
It also discovered damaged utensils, greasy floors and walls, food on the floor, a leaking refrigerator, and holes in walls and drains.
The inspector awarded a food hygiene rating of 0 (Urgent Improvement Necessary).
Staff were told to clean and disinfect the premises and made sure that urgent things were put right straight away so that the restaurant could remain open.
But after another inspection in May 2012, which also found problems, the council decided to prosecute.
Mr Al-Mahmood said a new operator, Essence, has now taken over the running of the restaurant and is promising improvements to hygiene, and more spending on the structure of the building.
He pleaded guilty to six food hygiene offences, as did the company.
Chairman of the bench Dr Melanie Hearn said: "This is a particularly bad case of contravening food hygiene regulations and has been going on over a long period of time."
She said both the company and the manager were equally at fault.
Mr Al-Mahmood said he had worked in the food retail business for 20 years and had never been prosecuted before. He said he had limited means to pay the fines.
Cllr Kevin Lake, Teignbridge spokesman for environmental services, said: "In this case there were clearly some very serious hygiene issues, and public health comes first."