Serious rodent infestation lands catering business and directors with a £14,000 penalty after council warnings ignored
Monday 22 February: Hillingdon Council has prosecuted a catering company in Hayes and its owners after a food hygiene inspection uncovered a string of offences.
The company and both owners were fined and ordered to pay a total of £14,345 for six offences. They had previously ignored the council's notices to improve.
During an inspection of Ardaas Sweets Catering Ltd, in Hayes in September 2019, officers uncovered a serious rodent infestation, with mice droppings littered all over the premises, including on the floor, food surfaces, near cooking equipment and in the food storage area. Stale water from washing potatoes was also overflowing onto the floor. Food waste was left on the floor overnight, and sweets and snacks were covered in mould.
Despite asking the owners Jaideep Singh Songra, 50 and Mahinder Parihar, 46 to make improvements - including a voluntary closure in April 2019 to get the infestation under control - it was evident from the grim discovery that no improvements had been made and there was no routine cleaning/disinfection system in place.
A notice was served in September 2019 for a food management system to be in place by October 2019 - but nothing was done, leaving environmental health officers no choice but to prosecute both the company and the two business partners.
At Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on Tuesday 9 February, both Songra and Parihar pleaded guilty to failing to improve conditions and for disregarding food safety and hygiene regulations. Both were fined £650 for each offence. In total they were each ordered to pay £5,134. The business was also fined £4,081.
Cllr John Riley, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Public Safety and Transport, said: "Ardaas Sweets Catering Ltd and its owners showed complete disregard for the law and for the safety of their staff and customers. We offered them a chance to help them improve hygiene standards, but instead they refused to cooperate and comply. This is completely unacceptable. We will continue to help businesses comply with the law and prosecute those who think the rules don't apply them."
Under interview, Songra agreed staff were not trained or supervised, he was unable to provide an explanation why they were failing to keep the premises clean, maintained and disinfected - nor could he explain why he did not have adequate pest control.