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Takeaway owner fined over rat infestation

A takeaway owner has been hit with a hefty fine over hygiene conditions that caused a serious health risk.

When Environmental Health Officers from Middlesbrough Council’s Public Protection Service visited Eatza Pizza in March they discovered poor standards of cleanliness, inadequate disinfection, foods at risk of contamination and evidence of a widespread rat infestation.

A Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice was served on the owner requiring the Wilson Street takeaway to close immediately.

Owner Ali Rezai was not allowed to reopen his business until Environmental Health Officers had carried out a further food hygiene assessment and were satisfied that effective pest treatment and prevention measures had been carried out and the premises thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 

Judith Hedgley, Middlesbrough Council’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Rodents carry disease and their presence in any food business creates a serious health risk.

“This is why food businesses operators must ensure that their premises are kept clean and free from pests at all times.

“The closure of this business was necessary to protect public health and it remained shut for 12 days.”

Appearing before Teesside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (December 4), Rezai, of Haddon Street, Middlesbrough, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013 – failing to ensure adequate procedures in place to control pests, failing to keep the premises clean, failing to ensure food was protected from contamination and failing to keep all articles, fittings and equipment that come into contact with food clean and disinfected.   

The 26-year-old was fined £1,920 and ordered to pay £737.52 in costs plus a £38 victim surcharge.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said “The vast majority of food business in Middlesbrough are well managed and are kept clean and in hygienic conditions.

“If the owners or managers of food businesses fail in their responsibility under food hygiene laws, this puts the health of their customers at risk.

“The Council’s Environmental Health Officers work closely with food businesses to ensure good standards are maintained.

“However, their primary responsibility is to protect consumer safety and therefore if poor standards of hygiene are found in any food business in Middlesbrough, they must take prompt enforcement action.”