Owner of filthy sandwich shop banned for five years

The cellar of Piknik

The cellar of Piknik

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The owner of a filthy sandwich shop which had six inches of raw sewage bubbling in its cellar has been banned from being involved in a food business for five years.

Concerned inspectors, who had already visited Piknik on Whitegate Drive, Blackpool, on several occasions, stepped into the raw waste during a probe at the shop in May, after receiving several complaints about the stench.

Jason Band, 46, of George Street, Blackpool, admitted 13 hygiene offences and was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work at Preston Crown Court.

Judge James Adkin said: “These 13 charges reflect the quite shocking state of those premises.

“The inspectors found the premises were filthy greasy, the interior was in a poor state of repair.

“To my astonishment there appears to have been a six-inch pool of raw sewage in the basement. The background of the investigation into your running of this establishment demonstrates you have pretty much a contempt for the inspection process.

“ It seems to me you have scant regard for the citizens of Blackpool who may have wanted to buy food from your shop, because you knew what the state of those premises were.”

Prosecuting, Claire Larton revealed inspectors found the chopping board was worn, among a plethora of other hygiene breaches. She said: “Floors, dishcloths, fridges, are all described as filthy greasy and poorly ventilated, and in poor repair.

“Issues include missing tiles, damage to cloths and cracks to containers, rusting in appliances, failing to ensure food surfaces were clean.

“There was dirty food debris on a meat slicer and chopping boards and freezers.

“Raw food was stored on top of ice cream, mayonnaise was contaminated with tuna which is an issue in relation to fish allergies.

“There were no monitoring records kept between May and the inspection date.

“All the taps in the premises were seen to discharge into the sewage bubbling in the cellar below.”

The court heard during one visit Band lied about his identity, pretending he was an employee.

Band also altered the wording on an official council notice put on his premises to hide to his home address from the public.

Piknik, had been visited several times by health officers, had been given a zero hygiene rating, and had been given a list of improvements to carry out, but many were not done and Blackpool Council imposed a closure order.

Paul Humphreys, defending, said Piknik had started out successfully with three staff but “things changed.”

Band fell behind with the rent and his landlord was not prepared to deal with the sewage problem until it was resolved.

He added: “After his premises were shut down he did spend time and money installing wash basins and cleaning the cellar and was given permission to re-open because improvements were made.

“The premises did reopen but money was not made. The business was no longer successful and in August he took the decision to terminate his lease and shut it down.

“He was not disregarding notice.”

Coun Gillian Campbell, Deputy Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “What we found in this sandwich shop was absolutely vile and it is completely unacceptable for somebody to even consider serving food to the public from a kitchen as unhygienic as this.

“Not only was the standard of the kitchen disgusting, the cover up attempt from the owner to hide these failings from our officers was just as despicable.

“It is completely right that this owner should be banned from running a food business and I am pleased that the judge has come to this decision too.

“Many people will have chosen to eat at Piknik because it was decorated well and looked clean from the outside. However, this wasn’t the case and it is a really important reminder that you should always check the food hygiene ratings of a premises before you eat there.

“You can do this at www.food.gov.uk/ratings and it is worth checking every time before you order, as the ratings can change.

“It is also important to remind people that the majority of food businesses in Blackpool are well run and meet hygiene standards, however our officers will not stop uncovering and tackling any rogue properties that are found.”