TWO restaurant bosses who had a ‘slipshod attitude to hygiene and cleanliness’ have been fined more than £10,000 between them.
Mohammed Talukdar and Swapan Roy ran the Abbey Meads Indian and Swindon Fried Chicken at the Neighbourhood Centre in Highdown Way, St Andrews Ridge.
But when food hygiene inspectors went to the takeaway they found a series of problems which risked contaminating the food.
Richard Shepherd, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court yesterday: “This case is very simple: it is about safety.
“This food should not have been sold to customers when it was being prepared in this type of environment, in all its forms. The Crown wouldn’t submit that this is the worst offending of its kind: but it is pretty bad.”
He said when environmental health first went to the premises in August 2015 they found building work going on there.
As well as walls with bare plaster, which could not be cleaned, there was also exposed fibreglass insulation and broken ceiling tiles in work areas.
In one photograph a dust mask is seen in a crate of tomatoes, which were going to be used for food. As well as an open bin containing chemicals and sealants, a double sink had raw chicken in one side while the other was used for washing hands.
The toilet door also opened directly in to the kitchen, presenting another risk of contamination of the food.
The final offences, relating to Talukdar, involved him claiming food was non soya, when it was all cooked in soya oil, and naan bread being gluten free when it was not.
Mr Shepherd said that although Roy was present at the first inspection, he was not deemed culpable as he was only the manager. However, when they returned in March last year he had become shareholder in the business.
Talukdar, of Wallis Drive, admitted 11 food hygiene breaches and Roy, of Poseiden Close, admitted four counts, pleading guilty to another four.
Mark Sharman, for Talukdar, said his client had been in the catering business for more than 20 years and had no previous convictions
Although he is now retired he said he had an income of £1,922 a week from property he rents out, including three businesses one of which is The Burj where Roy works.
At the time of the offending he said his client had to keep going back to Bangladesh to sort out legal disputes over the estates of his late father and brother and ‘took his eye off the ball’.
Alex Daymond, for Roy, said that he had been involved in other outlets and was brought in by his co-defendant when the take away was struggling.
He said he has debts of about £40,000 after the collapse of another business in Chippenham and he and his wife now worked at The Burj.
Passing sentence Judge Robert Pawson said: “You have both pleaded guilty to serious offences.
“Serious because you were involved in owning or managing premises providing food for the general public.
“With that sort of business comes a great deal of responsibility, for obvious reasons.
“The fact is you were both involved in unsafe processes regarding the selling of food to the public.
“There were building works going on in a commercial kitchen. I have seen the photographs, the state of you lavatory: it was filthy. It was properly described by prosecution council as a slipshod attitude to hygiene and cleanliness.”
He fined Talukdar £8,965 with £5,000 costs and Roy £1,500 with £1,000 costs.