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Huge fine for defying prohibition notice

Stuart Spear08/03/2018 - 11:42

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Food was open to contamination
Food was open to contamination

A restaurant that ignored an emergency prohibition notice has been fined £35,000 after it continued to prepare food in prohibited rooms.

The Star and Garter restaurant in Thame was first visited in March 2017 when EHOs from South Oxfordshire District Council found that rooms being used for food preparation and storage suffered rat infestations during a routine food hygiene inspection.

The rooms also required cleaning, food was found open to contamination and clear evidence that recorded checks were not being carried out.

While there was no sign of a rat infestation in the kitchen it also required cleaning.

EHOs served a hygiene emergency prohibition notice preventing the further use of the preparation and storage rooms with printed copies of the notices situated at all entrances to the building.

Returning to the premises on the two following days, on each occasion EHOs found that staff had concealed the prohibition notices and were continuing to use the unfit areas of the premises.

The Star and Garter Ltd that operates the Star and Garter Indian restaurant pleaded guilty to nine offences under the food hygiene regulations at Oxford Magistrates Court on 27 February.  

The court fined the company £35,000 and ordered it to pay £2,071 toward the council’s costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

Fining the company, the court said staff at the Star and Garter had shown a flagrant disregard of the prohibition process and criticised the premises’ poor record of compliance, potentially putting customers at risk.

At the time of the original inspection the restaurant had been awarded zero under the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme. Requesting a re-rating the restaurant achieved a two-star rating five months later rising to a three star in January this year.

The fine is the largest sum in a prosecution of its kind taken by South Oxfordshire DC.  

Elizabeth Gillespie, the council’s cabinet member for housing and environment,

Said: ‘It is very rare that food business operators will ignore and even breach these safeguards. This case demonstrates that should this happen the council will not hesitate to take robust action and this fine - the largest in a prosecution brought by us under food safety laws - reflects the seriousness of such breaches.’

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