An Aberdare takeaway owner who had to close her premises when Environmental Health Officers found a rat infestation has been prosecuted.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council had no choice but to take legal action against Maheen Zahra, due to the seriousness of the offences at Papa Bull, Cardiff Street.
The successful case is further proof of the proactive work taking place across RCT to protect consumers and support the local food businesses that work hard to operate in a safe, clean and legal manner.
Papa Bull was visited as part of the ongoing, proactive programme of inspections carried out by Council Environmental Health officers throughout the year.
During the visit on the 16th July last year, a rat infestation was discovered in areas including the kitchen and the food storeroom. Rodent infestations in any food business are a serious risk to public health due to the contamination of surfaces, packaging and foods rats can cause, as well as the diseases they can spread.
Maheen Zahra agreed to close the premises immediately and agreed to meet conditions before reopening the premises. These were:
Ensuring the rodent infestation was eradicated.
Undertaking structural works to exclude rodents from the premises
Disposing of open foods and food packaging
Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the premises
These conditions were met, later the same month, and officers gave the business permission to reopen.
As a result of the findings of the inspection the business was given a food hygiene rating of zero out of five. A previous inspection in July 2012 had also revealed that the business was not operating to a satisfactory standard and on that occasion the . business was awarded a one out of five with regard to the food hygiene rating scheme.
Mrs Zahra was interviewed in February and she confirmed that she was responsible for running the business. She also admitted that both her and her husband, who was manager of the shop, had known that there were rats in the premises before officers discovered the infestation in July 2013.
As a result, she was charged with a series of offences under the Food Hygiene (Wales) Regulations 2006, namely:
The construction of the food premises did not protect against contamination from pests
Adequate procedures were not in place to control pests
The food premises were not being kept clean
Wrapping materials were stored in a manner which exposed them to the risk of contamination.
The washbasins designated for cleaning hands were not provided with materials for hygienic hand-drying.
The case was heard at Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court on the 15th August and Mrs Zahra pleaded guilty to all of the offences. She was fined a total of £1,000 and ordered to pay £700.50 costs and a victim surcharge of £100.
Paul Mee, Director of Public Health and Protection at Rhondda Cynon Taf Council, said: “This is an important case as it once again shows how robust our inspection process is.
“Issues were identified at the premises and, not only did we take immediate action to protect the public, we also secured a successful prosecution.
“Our officers work hard to ensure the law is upheld and this includes taking swift and effective action against those who don’t meet the high standards we expect.
“But just as important is our work to prevent issues from happening in the first place, offering training, advice and information for businesses so they can operate to excellent standards and giving the public the information they need, via the food hygiene ratings schemes, to make informed decisions about where they eat.
“I hope this case once again serves as a reminder to all businesses to ensure they are operating within the law and to seek advice and information if they are unsure.
“It should also serve as a reassurance to our residents that we are working on their behalf and protecting them – while also supporting and celebrating the many excellent food businesses we have in Rhondda Cynon Taf.”