Welwyn Garden City restaurant firm ordered to pay more than £14K for food hygiene breaches
PUBLISHED: 12:41 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:41 23 March 2017
The owners of a restaurant in Welwyn Garden City were ordered to pay more than £14,000 for food hygiene breaches.
Choon Teoh and Sau Loh of Asian Gourmet Ltd, who run Hoy Che at 11 Shoplands, appeared at St Albans Magistrates Court yesterday, and pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching food hygiene regulations, with 26 other charges dropped by the prosecution.
The restaurant owners were charged following a Welwyn Hatfield Council inspection on January 25 last year, and were found to have no safety management system in place, to have failed to ensure the premises were kept clean, and failed to ensure that food was kept at the legally required temperature.
Paul Stimson, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “The business operates two restaurants, including the takeaway next door. It employs approximately five staff and is open seven days a week.
“There was a follow-up visit on June 27 and mouldy food items were taken. There was mould on the walls and tiles missing on the walls and floor. The extractor fans were not working properly and they were clogged with grease.
“They found the fridge and freezer with detritus and food debris and lacking in adequate hygiene.”
Hoy Che was given a food hygiene rating of one in 2015, which was lowered to zero in 2016. Over the past 14 months it has moved back up to a one.
Mr Stimson said: “They made efforts to improve but unfortunately we are still having to go and make sure standards are being maintained. As a local authority prosecution is a last resort.
“We have done everything we can to encourage Asian Gourmet to improve.”
David Wells, mitigating, argued that Mr Teoh was under pressure from running the business largely by himself.
“My client has not turned a blind eye to their responsibilities. A career in catering work has extended over 20 years between them.
“They bought the restaurant and the takeaway premises in 2000 and prior to that Mr Teoh was a chef. In 2015 the directorship changed and came in the sole name of Miss Loh.”
Mr Teoh’s wife was in charge of the business side of the restaurant while Mr Teoh himself operated the day to day running of the business. His sister-in-law, who helped him, became unwell, leaving him to run the restaurant single-handedly.
Mr Wells said: “The staff members were unreliable and he felt it his sole responsibility to do everything. Mr Teoh has taken full responsibility for what has occurred - he had experienced immense pressure running two businesses and said he was really sorry for what has happened.”
The magistrate fined Asian Gourmet £10,000 with court costs and a victim surcharge bringing the total to pay up to £14,305.34.
Mr Teoh and Miss Loh told the WHT: “Hoy Che has taken immediate steps to rectify the problems identified within the business, and we can assure all our customers that we continue to pride ourselves in maintaining a high standard of service and quality food that customers can enjoy.”
Following the case, Councillor Bernard Sarson, executive member for public health, said: “We’re pleased the court recognised the seriousness of these breaches.
“To protect the safety of residents and visitors to the borough, we want to work with business owners wherever possible and only use prosecution as a last resort.
“We hope this sends a clear message to businesses who do not respond to our advice and support; we will take enforcement action if you don’t comply with the law.
“It also serves as another reminder to our residents to check food hygiene ratings displayed in food business’ windows or online before eating out, all ratings are published online at http://ratings.food.gov.uk/”