The owners of a filthy restaurant kitchen where food inspectors discovered a live pigeon sitting on top of a freezer full of food have been hit with a hefty fine.
Lambeth Council food safety inspectors made the grim discovery after turning up to assess the kitchen on a Lambeth industrial estate last year. It had appeared the pigeon had flown in through an open door.
The inspectors immediately closed the premises down after also discovering cockroaches and mice droppings on the kitchen floor, open bags of flour that were contaminated with dirty water, and filthy conditions throughout the kitchen with grease and food debris covering the walls, floors and work surfaces, posing an imminent risk to public health.
The kitchen, on the Mahatma Gandhi Industrial Estate, Milkwood Road, was being used to supply food to Agrobeso, a restaurant selling African cuisine on Peckham High Street and was not registered with Lambeth Council as a food business premises.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Public Protection, said: “Businesses that serve food to the public have a fundamental responsibility to make sure the food they prepare is safe. There was no excuse for the frankly shocking conditions found in this kitchen and without swift intervention from our food safety team people could have been made very ill.
“Our environmental health and food safety team do a vital job in protecting the public from harm, as this case demonstrates.”
James Stradling and Mohammed Suleman, investigating officers from Lambeth Council’s food safety team, said
“The place was filthy and the fact that a live pigeon was able to get into an area where food was being stored should have obviously set alarms bells off to staff. It was clear that the kitchen had not been cleaned properly for some time.
“There was a serious risk to health as pigeons can carry pathogenic bacteria that can make people very ill.”
At Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court on May 4th the owners, Evelyn and Michael Azu pleaded guilty to a number of charges under the Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006, including operating an unregistered food business. They were sentenced to a fine of £2,000 each and ordered to pay Lambeth Council full costs of £2338.00 – a total of £6,338.00 to be paid within 2 months.
The inspection was made on 10th May 2011. The owners agreed a schedule of work with the council to improve conditions at the kitchen and food inspectors returned on 26th May 2011 where they found that conditions had improved sufficiently for the business to reopen. The council will continue to monitor the premises to ensure the standards are maintained.