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Pizzeria owner fined over hygiene dangers

The owner of a Middlesbrough takeaway has been hit with a hefty fine over hygiene breaches that put customers’ health at risk.

When Environmental Health Officers visited Pizzeria 26 in March, they found poor standards of cleanliness, evidence of a widespread mouse infestation and a serious risk of contamination to food. 

The Public Protection Service team served a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice on owner Ihsan Ullah requiring him to close the takeaway with immediate effect.

He was not allowed to reopen the Norfolk Place business until 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: “Environmental Health Officers make regular visits to restaurants, takeaways and other food outlets in Middlesbrough to check hygiene and food safety practices.

“Mouse activity in a food business is usually very easy to spot.

“It is good hygiene practice to carry out daily hygiene checks to ensure food rooms and equipment are free from pests and are clean and hygienic.

“Reducing the risk of pests getting into food rooms requires proper maintenance of the premises, adopting suitable pest proofing measures and maintaining good standards of cleanliness.  

“The presence of mouse droppings at the Pizzeria 26 takeaway highlighted inadequate management of hygiene which may have resulted in food becoming contaminated and unsafe food being served.” 

Appearing before Teesside Magistrates, Court on Tuesday, December 20, Ullah, of Waterloo Road, Middlesbrough pleaded guilty to four 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 keep food equipment clean and failing to ensure food was protected from contamination.

The 46-year-old was fined £1,190 and ordered to pay £742 towards the Council’s costs, plus a £47 victim surcharge.

Councillor Julia Rostron, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said “The Council’s Environmental Health Officers will always take prompt action to protect consumer safety if they discover substandard conditions in any local food business.

“The Council’s first approach to securing food hygiene standards is to work with businesses - however, where there are serious breaches of the food hygiene rules then legal action will always be considered.”