15 June 2024

Former Salisbury restaurant fined after rat infestation found in food preparation areas

The former operator of a restaurant in Salisbury has been fined for recurring food hygiene offences, including a widespread rat infestation, after an investigation by Environmental Health Officers from Wiltshire Council’s Food and Safety team.

The offences took place while the defendant was in charge of Arzoo Restaurant, 129-133 South Western Road Salisbury, which is now under different ownership and a new name.

Following a long delay due to the pandemic, District Judge Greenfield, presiding at Salisbury Magistrates Court on the 18th January 2022, passed sentence on Saydul Islam of Foxwell Drive, Headington, Oxford.

The defendant has been ordered to pay £15,000 in fines and £7,047 legal costs, plus a victim surcharge fee of £170.

In November 2019, the defendant pleaded guilty to ten charges of poor hygiene practices found by Wiltshire Council’s Food and Safety Team during visits to the restaurant in November 2018 and August 2019.

As a result of a complaint of rats in November 2018 from a member of the public, Wiltshire Council Environmental Health Officers inspected the restaurant on 23rd November 2018 and found a chronic failure to achieve the very basics of food hygiene in all parts of the business and matters that put customers at imminent risk of harm.

Officers found an active and widespread rat infestation in all food preparation and storage areas. This included evidence of rat activity on food preparation surfaces. Rats could gain access to the kitchen at multiple points including a broken kitchen window.

There were also exceptionally poor standards of cleaning and hygiene in all food preparation and storage areas, with unhygienic and dirty food contact surfaces, equipment and food containers, exposing food to serious risk of contamination.

There was a complete failure of the business to carry out rudimentary repairs to pest-proof the building or maintain a system of management checks and controls to ensure that customers eating at the restaurant were not exposed to the risk of harm.

To protect the public, the business was persuaded to voluntarily close for cleaning repairs and pest treatments for seven days. During this closure, an officer visited several times at the request of Mr Islam, finding on each occasion that he had still not addressed the issue effectively. The business later re-opened to trade following extensive cleaning, elimination of the rats and pest proofing works.

Despite having put his customers at risk in November 2018 and being issued the lowest possible National Food Hygiene Rating of zero, which means ‘urgent improvement is required’, a further unannounced routine inspection on 7th August 2019 revealed further appalling standards of hygiene and an extensive fly infestation throughout the food rooms.

The management system implemented following the previous closure had completely lapsed again by March 2019, and no regular hygiene or pest checks were being carried out. There was a build-up of grease and food debris under and behind units which included an alarming number of flies and visible fly pupae throughout the kitchen. The electric fly killer was covered with dead insects, there were no fly screens at doors or windows and no attempts to address the issue by means of professional pest control.

In his summary, the district judge commented that the defendant would have been clearly aware of the problems at the restaurant but, motivated by profit, he had failed to address them and put the public at risk for a significant period of time. Sharing the council’s lack of confidence in the ability of the defendant to run a food business safely and with no evidence submitted by him to the contrary, the judge made a Prohibition Order to prohibit the defendant from participating in the management of any food business indefinitely.

Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling, Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member for Public Health and Protection, said, “The outcome of this case reflects the seriousness of the offences found at this business, with shocking pest infections and the defendant showing no regard for the safety of his customers.

“I would like to thank our Food and Safety team for the key role they played in getting this to court. It is unfortunate that sentencing has been delayed by the pandemic but our team ensured that the matter was brought before the court for sentencing as rapidly as the backlog permitted, and the Prohibition Order is an appropriate sanction in cases of such blatant neglect. We would like to reassure people that this work goes on despite the restrictions we have faced.

“The majority of restaurant managers know that the hygiene of their venue and the safety of their customers is of absolute primary importance. I hope this acts as a warning to those businesses that look to cut corners and put profit above anything else.”

Arzoo Restaurant has operated under different ownership since Autumn 2019, with a new name and a food hygiene rating of 4 from its latest inspection in October 2021.

Written by
Beth Doherty
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Written by Beth Doherty