Pub operator Mitchells and Butlers (M&B) has been fined £20,000 after health inspectors found "grim" conditions hygiene conditions in one of its north London pubs.
Two officers discovered fish defrosting in a plastic container in a sink next to dirty washing up, raw food next to cooked items on chopping boards, and a grease-caked grill at the Duck in the Pond in north London.
M&B Retail was fined by Harrow magistrates yesterday after pleading guilty to six offences under the food hygiene regulations, including failures to have adequate training and adequate food safety systems.
The company had received two prior warnings in relation to the pub from Harrow Council, dating back to January 2007. In court, M&B also admitted that its own third party auditors had found consistent problems.
Cllr Susan Hall, deputy leader of the council, said: "This would certainly have qualified as one of Gordon Ramsay's kitchen nightmares. Nobody had a grip on the kitchen and as a result the conditions were pretty grim.
"It was particularly appalling that this should happen under the ownership of a large business like Mitchells and Butlers, and the company's delay in tackling the issue is reflected in the level of the fine."
The Court was told the Duck's owners had since carried out £30,000 of work, including a deep clean and refit of the venue.
A spokesman for M&B said: "Food safety is our top priority and responsibility. These incidents took place over six months ago and we acted quickly to rectify them. We undertook a comprehensive review of all food hygiene practices at the pub to reinforce the high standards of food safety that we require. We also put in place a new, highly experienced team, including a new pub manager and retrained all staff to ensure our rigorous food safety processes are adhered to. The pub now has in place the highest standards of food hygiene and our customers can be assured that their meals are carefully and properly prepared, cooked and served."
The company added that the pub underwent a food safety audit in September 2009 and achieved a score of 100%.
By Neil Gerrard
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