Cardiff kebab takeaway infested with rodents

A MOUSE was seen running from underneath a drinks machine and food was prepared in poor conditions at a Cardiff kebab house that failed to follow food hygiene advice.

One of the operators of Andalucia Kebab House in City Road, Diar Ali, was handed a six month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and thousands of pounds worth of fines following a Cardiff Crown Court hearing on Tuesday, January 9.

Mr Ali, 48, of 10 Westland Close, Cardiff, was found guilty of 23 food hygiene-related offences after initially appearing at the magistrates court in October.

The court heard how rodent droppings were discovered following one of a number of Shared Regulatory Service (SRS) visits in 2021, and that there was evidence of raw meat coming into contact with cooked food.

Prosecutor Alexander Greenwood said that on one occasion, inspectors witnessed raw chicken juice dripping on to an area where naan bread would be placed and that food was not being refrigerated at correct temperatures.

Mr Ali’s defence said the true owner of the company behind the kebab house, Diolchus Ltd, was a man called Mustafa Said and that he only became involved with the premises as an interpreter.

The defence also told the court that Mr Ali would engage with inspectors when they attended the premises and that he did make some improvements to the kebab shop.

However, Recorder Andrew Hammond said it was clear that the premises had been kept in an “appalling” state and that the food hygiene offences created a “real risk” to the health of members of the public.

He said: “Offences of this sort are serious. They create a real risk to the health of unsuspecting members of the public of all ages, some of whom may be vulnerable and the potential for widespread harm from food hygiene offences such as this is significant and obvious.

“It should be particularly obvious to you because of your… previous convictions.”

Mr Ali was convicted more than ten years ago for similar food hygiene offences in relation to the same premises after an outbreak of ecoli resulted in nine people falling ill.

Recorder Hammond said some of those who fell ill were hospitalised as a result of the outbreak.

The offences that Mr Ali was tried for more recently were discovered following a routine inspection by environmental health officers on May 26, 2021.

Mr Greenwood told the court that temperature checks were found not to be up to date and that there was “no food safety management on site at all”.

He added that the premises “wasn’t clean and in a general state of disrepair”. He also said there was glue on the floor to catch mice.

Following their visit, the SRS told Mr Ali he should close in order to address the issues that had raised concerns with them, but Mr Ali insisted that he could resolve them in a short period of time following a deep clean.

Officers revisited the premises on May 27 and whilst some efforts had been made to improve the place, further offences were discovered.

According to the prosecution, an employee was seen to be picking up raw lamb and washing their hands in the wrong basin that was not dedicated to raw meat hand washing.

During a visit in June, a mouse was seen running under a Coca-Cola drinks machine.

Following this, the business closed voluntarily to resolve the issues that had been raised, and although improvements were noted during further visits in June, some issues remained and one member of staff was seen preparing raw meat without an apron on.

Mr Ali applied for a re-rating of the kebab shop’s food hygiene score, which was zero at the time, and further visits carried out between September and November, 2021, revealed more offences.

Mr Greenwood said that some documentation at the premises hadn’t been reviewed in years and that there was no evidence of staff training in the Food Standards Agency’s safer food, better business programme.

There was also food being kept at the wrong temperatures. Inspectors apparently found rice being kept at room temperature.

The business was awarded a one out of five food hygiene rating in September and following a new re-score request, more visits were carried out in December, 2021, and further offences were found.

Following this, the business was rewarded with a three food hygiene rating.

The Andalucia Kebab Shop has since closed permanently.

Mr Ali’s barrister, Bethan Evans, said he “regrets ever becoming involved in this shop”.

According to Companies House records, the director of Diolchus Ltd is Mustafa Said. However, Mr Said is not in the country at this moment in time.

Ms Evans said a new fridge was purchased for the premises in November, 2021, to address temperature control issues and that improvements in hygiene practices were noted by December.

She added: “As a result of these convictions, he will have no further involvement in any food premises. He wishes to put this behind him.”

Ms Evans also noted that in this particular case there was no evidence of harm or illness caused as a result of the offences that Mr Ali was being tried for.

In terms of personal mitigation, Ms Evans told the recorder that Mr Ali had an 11 year old son and ex-partner who he currently lived with.

She added: “He tells me… that he is the one who is responsible for things such as taking his child to school and from school.”

She went on to say that Mr Ali was eager to work with the probation service and that this could be an opportunity for him.

On top of the suspended prison sentence, Recorder Hammond sentenced Mr Ali to 40 days of rehabilitation activity.

He has been ordered to pay a £1,000 fine, £128 victim surcharge and contribute £2,000 to prosecution costs.

A food hygiene order will also be imposed on Mr Ali and he is now prohibited from participating in the management of any food business.

Recorder Hammond told Mr Ali that if he breached this order he would be committing another offence which could lead to imprisonment, adding: “It is time to find a different line of work”.

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