Rugby Indian restaurant handed £7,300 legal bill after string of food offences

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An Indian restaurant in Rugby town centre has been ordered to pay £7,300 after pleading guilty to multiple food safety offences.

The Masala Lounge was prosecuted by Rugby Borough Council after a routine inspection uncovered a number of hygiene breaches.

Environmental health officers visited the Castle Street restaurant in March when it was open and serving customers.

While in the kitchen, the officers spotted a waiter blowing on a plate of poppadoms.

When challenged, the waiter said the poppadoms were ‘too hot’ to serve to a customer.

Another member of staff changed his shoes in the kitchen, storing the unworn pair next to a tub of peeled onions under a kitchen worktop before washing his hands in a sink used to wash food.

The officers discovered chest freezers with split and mouldy door seals, a dirty fridge and chopping board, and a hot food cabinet covered in grease and dirt.

The kitchen’s fly killer was in poor condition and officers also found an uncovered crate of poppadoms.

A storeroom next to the kitchen had cracked wall tiles and an open bag of flour, while a storeroom on the first floor had food ingredients stored next to DIY tools, a vacuum cleaner, paint tins and computer parts.

The officers also found the kitchen was operating without a food safety management system, suggesting staff were failing to carry out regular, routine safety checks.

Following the inspection in March, an officer returned to the Masala Lounge earlier this month to find the restaurant had failed to address a number of the hygiene and safety issues highlighted during the original inspection.

At Nuneaton’s Warwickshire Justice Centre on Tuesday August 15, Monjur Choudhury, sole director of Masala Lounge Indian Restaurant Limited, pleaded guilty to six offences under the food hygiene regulations.

Mr Choudhury apologised to magistrates for failing to maintain good hygiene standards at the restaurant and said the safety breaches in the kitchen and storerooms had now been addressed.

He said a food safety management system was now in place at the restaurant and he had paid for staff to go on food hygiene training.

Magistrates fined Masala Lounge Indian Restaurant Limited a total of £4,600 for the offences. noting the work carried out at the restaurant had been done at the last minute.

The company was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120 and the council’s £2,587 costs - a sum Choudhury disputed due to the fact the firm paid business rates.

Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Lisa Parker, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: “Cutting corners on food hygiene puts the health of customers at risk, so it’s vital food businesses adhere to the highest standards at all times.

“The council’s food safety team offers advice and support to businesses so owners understand the legislation and implement the necessary measures to run a safe and hygienic kitchen.

“When businesses ignore our advice we have no option but to prosecute, which can result in a very expensive day in court.”

Businesses can contact the council’s food safety team on 01788 533851 or email foodsafety@rugby.gov.uk