The owner of a restaurant near Croydon, south London, has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,371.50 after food safety inspectors found grease-covered surfaces and filthy cleaning cloths at the site.

New Tandoor, owner of the Tandoor Restaurant, London Road, in Norbury, admitted charges of having no food-safety management system, untrained and/or unsupervised and uninstructed staff, and poor maintenance and cleaning.

Croydon magistrates heard that officers visited the premises on 29 March last year, having received a complaint regarding an alleged food poisoning.

They found that the premises were dirty in all areas, with a build-up of grease and grime on all equipment and work surfaces, and food being stored at incorrect temperatures.

Cleaning cloths in the kitchen were encrusted with accumulated debris, and both the washing-up and drainage area were filthy.

No food stored in the refrigerators was covered, and large containers of cooked food were cooling in the kitchen at room temperature.

Mohammed Shafique, the company's food business operator, volunteered to close the restaurant to carry out cleaning, but further visits on the following two days revealed that, while some improvements had been made, they continued to fall short of required standards.

Raw meat was being stored above, and next to, ready-to-eat food. No food in the refrigerators was date-coded or covered. Food was cooling in large containers in the saucepan. Cleaning of the kitchen remained unsatisfactory, and the wash hand basin was dry, indicating that it had not been used, and no soap was available for hand washing.

Shafique, present in court, received instruction on the Safer Food Better Business (SFBB) food safety management system for small businesses, but a return visit by officers on 5 April revealed that, while cleaning in the premises had improved, further work was required.

Councillor Simon Hoar, cabinet member for community safety, said: "The conditions found in this establishment were appalling and show how bad things can get without a proper food-management system in place.

"Despite repeated visits and advice from our food safety officers, the restaurant's managers failed both to have the premises cleaned to a satisfactory standard, and to keep a close check on food storage and stock control.

"It's to be hoped that this company, and others in the catering business in Croydon, take heed of this prosecution and do all they can to maintain high food-hygiene standards."

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By Neil Gerrard

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