A London Chinese restaurant has been fined £30,000 after health inspectors saw a mouse swimming in a portion of sweet and sour sauce that was about to be served to customers.
The rodent was photographed as it jumped out of the bowl and ran along a pipe in the kitchen of the Kam Tong restaurant in Queensway, Bayswater, according to the London Evening Standard.
Mice droppings were found all over the kitchens of the Kam Tong and two other restaurants, the Hung Tao and Kiasu, including inside the fridges, on crockery, soy sauce containers and a chopping board next to some meat.
In addition, inspectors discovered all three restaurants, all owned by Ronald Lim, had an infestation of cockroaches. Some were seen living in the fridge seals and their eggs were found in the dim sum and baskets of prawn crackers.
Lim was arrested and admitted 17 counts of breaching food hygiene regulations.
Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, said in a hearing at Southwark Crown Court that the conditions that environmental officers from Westminster council found were "disgraceful" and branded them an "appalling risk" to the safety of customers.
He said: "Thankfully there is no evidence before me of actual illness being suffered by your customers."
All three restaurants situated within yards of each other were shut down between May and August 2008, but have since reopened and are being closely monitored by the council.
"In my judgment there is still some way to go before they could be regarded with complete confidence as exposing the public to no risk at all," added the judge.
Lim, of Barnet, was given an eight-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to pay fines totalling £30,000 plus £18,131 costs. Judge Rivlin said if he had not pleaded guilty he would have gone to prison immediately.
The restaurant owner has been given three months to improve standards before a decision is made whether to ban him from operating a catering business altogether. If he fails to make the necessary improvements, Lim could be jailed for 18 months.
By Janie Stamford
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