The filthy conditions at a Bradford city centre takeaway have been described as “beyond belief” after inspectors found cockroaches creeping out of walls and a catalogue of other hygiene offences.
Bradford & Keighley Magistrates were shocked by photographs of the dirty kitchen found at B&U Fisheries, in Morley Street, when environmental health officers carried out a routine check in August last year.
Despite facing potential fines of up to £60,000 each, Tanweer Hussain, 31, of Nurser Lane, Little Horton, and Sajad Ahmed, 42, of Beechwood Grove, Wibsey, were instead given conditional discharges because of their “modest” incomes and ordered to split the £3,842 court costs of the case.
The two men had each been charged with breaching 12 food hygiene regulations after the routine Council check of the takeaway’s kitchen unearthed dirty and greasy counters, rusty bars on windows, a dirty pizza oven and raw burgers next to food that was ready to eat.
Staff were not wearing appropriate protective clothing, one was seen wiping his dirty hands on an apron while handling raw chicken, a drain was blocked with potato peelings, cockroaches were seen coming out of the walls and ventilation was so inadequate that the visiting environmental health officer reported feeling “searing heat” in her throat when she took a deep breath.
Chairman of the bench Allan Wilson told the defendants: “The fact that food produced in those conditions was being offered to the public we find literally beyond belief.”
Prosecuting on behalf of Bradford Council, Harjit Ryatt said: “An aggravating feature was the defendants were aware of the cockroach infestation several months before the inspection in August.
A pest controller had been engaged but had not been back for a re-visit. Both defendants showed poor knowledge of food hygiene matters.”
Hussain had pleaded guilty to all the charges but Ahmed had pleaded not guilty because he claimed he had not been the co-owner at the time of the inspection and that he had only been helping out at the business he had sold on to his friend Hussain.
Despite hearing Ahmed’s claims he could not be held legally responsible for the hygiene breaches, magistrates found him guilty after trial.
It was only when matters came to court that Ahmed had claimed not to be the co-owner although he had signed Council documents, including a temporary voluntary closure notice for the takeaway, as the co-owner.
He had also signed a letter to the Council prepared by his trainee solicitor daughter Lilly Ahmed in which he referred to Hussain as his business partner and to himself as co-owner.
He told magistrates, through an interpreter, he had signed that letter not understanding it because he could not read English and because he had trusted his daughter who, he said, had not known he had sold the business.
The court heard since B&U Fisheries had re-opened there had been no more environmental health concerns, a pest check had found no cockroaches and Hussain had passed a food hygiene course.
Mr Wilson warned Hussain, on a 12-month conditional discharge, and Ahmed, on an 18-month conditional discharge, they would be back before court for sentencing on the 12 charges each if there were any more offences in that time.
“Any food business you are involved with must be above any criticism,” he said.