Filthy: Health inspectors investigating Oldham Fisheries, Manchester found three mice rotting on a glue trap in the cellar while staff were upstairs cooking food for the public
Health inspectors found mice rotting on a glue trap while staff prepared food in a takeaway restaurant offering the 'finest fish and chips', a court heard.
Investigators from Oldham Council discovered the rodents in a cellar when they inspected Oldham Fisheries in Greater Manchester.
Oldham Magistrates' court heard that mouse droppings had also been found in herbs and spices used for cooking in the restaurant.
In addition to mouse droppings in the herbs and spices, inspectors found mouse waste on the kitchen floor, cooking equipment and even on surfaces where food was being prepared.
As well as mouse droppings, the deep fat fryer which was used to cook battered cod and chips was covered in grease and grime.
A freezer, which was rusting, was held together with white sticky tape.
Inspectors found mouse droppings in herbs and spices as well as on cooking equipment and on areas being used to prepare food
Worse still, a washroom area where staff were supposed to wash their hands was being used as a makeshift wardrobe.
Staff working in the restaurant were not equipped with protective clothing and wore ordinary jeans and t-shirts.
The takeaway, which has now closed was owned by businessmen Iram Bibi and Sarfaz Rouf.
Oldham Magistrates' court heard that health inspectors from the local council raided the takeaway on May 15 last year.
A report said food was left uncovered and unprotected against contamination and dirty cloths were being used to clean work surfaces.
The chest freezer lid in the cellar was heavily scoured and rusting in places. It was also covered with plastic tape and dirt was engrained in the worn surface. There was no hot and cold water available for employees tom wash their hands.
It was also apparent during the visit that food handlers had not been trained in food hygiene matters and the takeaway was immediately closed down.
Ruth Crimmins prosecuting told the hearing: 'There is a basic hygiene requirement we would all hope to expect from food outlets but far too often we see that these standards are not complied with and premises fall well below standard requirement.'
In mitigation, Rouf, from Manchester admitted the state of the premises was unacceptable but said he didn’t have a 'vast knowledge' of food hygiene.
He claimed he had been having problems with his landlord. It is thought Rouf reopened the takeaway after a clean up but closed it for good following the death of his father.
Inspectors claimed that the deep fat fryer was covered in grease and grime. Magistrate Joe Farquhar said it did not take 'a great deal of common sense' to know that mouse droppings were unacceptable in a takeaway
He and Bibi pleaded guilty to ten charges under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Chairman of the bench Joe Farquhar condemned the takeaway which he described as 'appalling'.
He fined Bibi and Rouf £250 each and ordered them to pay £2,335 towards the prosecution plus a victim surcharge of £25 each.
He said: 'This is an appalling case and if you were still trading your fine would be a lot higher.
I would like to have fined you a much higher amount but my hands are tied as the business is now closed and I have to believe that your income is what you say it is
'The fact is that you should never have put the public at risk like that. You say you don’t have a vast knowledge of food hygiene but it only takes common sense to know what a bad state your takeaway was in - how can anyone not know that mouse droppings in food is unacceptable?
'I have seen the extent to which environmental health officers go to make sure the public are not at risk. I cannot believe the state Oldham Fisheries was in when it was inspected.
'You must make sure you pay the costs imposed on you because otherwise it is taxpayers footing the bill - and that is not fair - why should they pay for your mistakes.'
After the case Labour Councillor Jean Stretton, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Co-operatives and Neighbourhoods, said: 'Oldham Council takes matters like this very seriously and we are committed to ensuring there are no serious lapses in food hygiene in premises.
'To protect the health and safety of our residents we will not hesitate to take action in cases like these.
'Business owners who run food establishments must comply with food hygiene laws or be prepared to face the consequences.'