Town centre takeaway boss served with suspended jail sentence
A MOULDY pizza delivered by a town centre takeaway was reported to the council on Twitter, prompting an inspection which uncovered a string of food hygiene offences.
Officers from Rugby Borough Council's environmental health team visited the Rugby Grill House, in Church Street, in August following the tweet from a disgruntled customer, who had ordered a pizza from the takeaway only to find the base covered in mould.
During the inspection the officers discovered mouse droppings, grills covered in grease and kebab meat stored in a dirty container.
The kitchen's Insect-O-Cutor was located above food boxes, allowing dead insects to drop into packaging, freezers had dirty and split door seals, and microwaves were caked with food debris.
The officers also found wash basins with no soap and cracked floor and wall tiles, while the floor leading to the takeaway's store room was caked with flour.
Appearing before magistrates at Nuneaton's Warwickshire Justice Centre on Tuesday (14 February), the takeaway's owner, Jaskaran Singh Randhawa, pleaded guilty to ten breaches of food hygiene regulations.
The court was told an environmental health officer had visited the Rugby Grill House in February 2016 and issued Mr Randhawa with a warning letter which listed a number of hygiene issues.
But the inspection in August - which was brought forward following the customer's complaint - revealed hygiene standards had deteriorated, prompting Randhawa to agree to a voluntary closure of the takeaway while he addressed the issues.
The takeaway was closed for two days before the council gave it the green light to reopen.
Representing himself in court, Randhawa told magistrates his business was struggling and his family, which had owned 50 takeaways across the country, had been forced to close a number of businesses due to tough trading conditions.
The 39-year-old added he was ashamed to find himself in court and hygiene standards at the takeaway had deteriorated as he struggled to pay staff.
Randhawa, of Aqua Place, Rugby, was sentenced to six months in prison - suspended for two years. Magistrates also ordered him to pay £4,764 costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
Speaking after the hearing, Cllr Lisa Parker, Rugby Borough Council portfolio holder for environment and public realm, said: "Our food safety team offer advice and support to food businesses so owners can understand the legislation and the steps which need to be taken to meet safety standards.
"While we're happy to help businesses, we also have a duty to protect the health of our residents and the offences committed at the Rugby Grill House were so serious we had no choice but to prosecute.
"The severity of the sentence imposed by magistrates sends the clear message food businesses cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to hygiene."
Businesses can contact the council's food safety team on (01788) 533851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents can check the food hygiene ratings of takeaways, restaurants and cafes in the borough at the Food Standards Agency website - ratings.food.gov.uk
Photo caption: Environmental health officers from Rugby Borough Council discovered a string of food hygiene breaches during an inspection of the Rugby Grill House.