A Chinese restaurant in Greenwich has been handed a record fine of £54,000 and its owners have been banned from running restaurants in the future after it failed to clean up its act.
The Peninsula restaurant, 85 Bugsbys Way, SE10 pleaded guilty in Woolwich Crown Court to 18 breaches of food hygiene and was fined £54,000 - believed to be one of the biggest fines ever handed out in England for such an offence. It was also ordered to pay £2,600 costs.
It was the second time in two years that the restaurant had been prosecuted by Greenwich Council.
In April 2011, the restaurant was closed by Greenwich Environmental Health Officers when an unannounced inspection found mouse droppings among packets of food, next to plates and even inside a roll of cling film in the kitchen.
There was also a heavy build up of grease on the floor beneath the cooking range, mouldy vegetables on the floor of the walk-in fridge. No paper towels at hand basins meant it was difficult for kitchen staff to maintain good standards of personal hygiene.
The restaurant was allowed to reopen eight days after that inspection once the kitchen was cleaned and the original mouse inspection treated, in accordance with food laws.
But in Woolwich Crown Court yesterday the judge, His Honour Judge Byers, said the kitchen was in a "disgraceful state" and the conditions were a "disaster waiting to happen."
The Court heard that the restaurant's owner, Crestdane, was fined £13,500 in February 2010 after similar conditions were found at the premises. Because of this previous conviction, Judge Byers prohibited Crestdane from running a food business in the future.
Councillor Maureen O'Mara, Greenwich cabinet member for community, safety and environment, said: "I applaud the verdict in this case and welcome the additional sanction that bans the owners from running a food business in the future.
"The hygiene conditions at this restaurant were an absolute disgrace. The key priority seemed to be placing profits over offering good quality food by operating with a blatant disregard for the health of their customers. We have tried to support the restaurant to clean up its act, but they have consistently failed to do so.
"This is an incredibly significant year for Greenwich as we celebrate our new Royal Borough status and our special role as Host Borough for the 2012 London Games. Our restaurants help support a tourism industry which brings in £774 million to the local economy and supports more than 8,000 jobs.
"We are determined to ensure that locals and visitors to Greenwich can enjoy the exciting range of international foods on offer, without worrying about how safe the hygiene conditions are in the kitchen."
Action the council took to help the business clean up its act in the past included providing advice in person to managers, sending warning letters to the company and serving legal notices. This time officers were forced to close the premises due to the very serious conditions found.
By Neil Gerrard
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Published by: The Caterer