A Lancaster takeaway has been fined £15,000 for breaching food hygiene regulations – after a customer found a 3cm long screw inside an onion bhaji.
N & S (Lancs) LLP, which operates Nice and Spicy in Church Street, was charged with seven offences under the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013.
Included within the charges was the sale of an onion bhaji that was considered unsafe and unfit for human consumption. The bhaji was found to have a 3cm long screw baked inside.
Magistrates heard that food hygiene inspectors from Lancaster City Council visited the premises in January 2019 in response to a food complaint and the inspection confirmed a number of food hygiene offences.
The complaint was in relation to a meal that had been bought from the Nice and Spicy in Lancaster in early January 2019.
Following delivery of the meal, the customer discovered a metal screw embedded in an onion bhaji and notified the council.
A council environmental health officer carried out an inspection of the premises and found that there was building work being undertaken at the premises and food was not adequately protected from contamination.
Open and unlidded ingredients were stored in the dry store goods area which was dusty and dirty and the structure was unfinished.
A number of other food hygiene contraventions were found during the visit.
In November 2018 the business had been issued with a written warning after an unannounced inspection revealed similar concerns.
The inspecting officer had found uncovered food ingredients stored at risk of contamination.
The case was heard by Lancaster Magistrates’ Court on December 2.
The company did not appear in court and was not represented, but magistrates agreed to hear the case in its absence and found the company guilty on all seven charges.
However, Zubeir Mister from Nice and Spicy said he has since applied to the court to have the case relisted.
He said the company had not been informed of the hearing.
“The matter wasn’t brought to the company’s attention,” Mr Mister said. “No notification was received by the complainant.”
The company is a limited liability partnership registered in Oldham but operates the Nice and Spicy takeaway premises in Church Street.
Mark Davies, director of communities and the environment, said: “All food businesses have a fundamental duty to their customers to operate their businesses in a responsible way to ensure that the food they provide is prepared in hygienic conditions and is fit for human consumption.
“Whilst the vast majority of our food businesses achieve a food hygiene rating of at least 3, and that many of our food businesses have a rating of 4 or 5, where this is not the case and businesses are not able to demonstrate that they are taking steps to improve their practices, the city council will not hesitate to prosecute.
“I urge anyone thinking of eating out or buying a takeaway to check out the food hygiene rating of the business. You can find out the rating of any food business by visiting www.lancaster.gov.uk/foodsafety”
In addition to the fine, the firm must also pay a victim surcharge of £170 and £1,553.48 costs.