WHAT DO YOU order when you go to an Indian restaurant? A nice, mild korma? A traditional Biryani? A challenging Prawn Phall? Whatever your go-to meal, none of us will ask for a lightly steamed cockroach on the side – or a pan roasted mouse. But that’s what could have been served up at the Restaurant Dhaka Biryani in Mile End last year – and that’s what has landed owner Shahadat Hossain of Colebert Avenue, Bethnal Green, a hefty £40,000 fine.
It was July last year when the Council’s food hygiene inspectors noticed that the Dhaka Biryani restaurant was not registered on the Council’s food safety system and went down to carry out a routine inspection. They found what every inspector must dread discovering: a severe infestation of cockroaches and mice.
Usually cockroaches are nocturnal and it can be hard to see them during the day. These cockroaches were brazenly going about their business in the kitchen – indicating that this was a severe infestation which had been going on for some time. It also made it quite clear that the owner, manager and staff must have been aware that cockroaches were present – and had ignored the problem.
Inspectors also found mouse droppings littered throughout the kitchen area – on shelves where food was stored and on chopping boards, cups and spoons. Again, all staff must have been aware of the problem. How dare the manager treat his customers in this way? Does he keep mice in his pantry at home? Does he allow cockroaches to have the run of his kitchen? If not, how dare he subject his unwitting customers to these health threats?
Cockroaches can spread diseases such as dystentry, gastroenteritis, typhoid and polio. Some people can suffer allergic reactions to their faeces. In short, the stupid and uncaring Mr Hussain could have killed someone and could have made (and probably did make) several people severely ill. After he had collected their cash, of course.
Fortunately the Council’s Environmental Health Officers can take action to protect us. They shut the restaurant down immediately and told the owner to take action to remove the pests (by which they meant the infestation). The pest to human health who is the owner did eradicate the nasty visitors to his restaurant and asked the Council to re-inspect his premises. Council staff realised that removing an infestation on this scale could not be successful overnight and refused to re-inspect until proper measures had been taken. They then returned to the premises and were able to confirm that the pests had been completely eliminated – and allowed the restaurant to re-open.
The final kick in the teeth for public health was that the restaurant owner did in fact retain a pest control contractor, and the initial inspectors looked at the records of his work. They saw that the contractor had warned the owner that the shop had a problem – but the owner did not take any action.
Such serious breaches of health and safety and such flagrant disregard for the health of the community meant that Hossain had to be prosecuted. He admitted four counts of breaching food hygiene standards at Thames Magistrates and was ordered to pay a fine of £40,000.
Cllr Amina Ali, Cabinet Member for Environment, welcomed the fine, saying, “We remind all food retailers of the importance of hygiene, and will take enforcement action when retailers are in breach of the law.”
She also asked residents to help the Council’s work by checking the food hygiene ratings of local restaurants, as she believed this would encourage restaurants to improve their standards. The Council reported that any restaurant can be checked on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website:
Accordingly, ELN checked the site to see how the Dhaka Biryani of 96 Mile End Road, London E1 4UN is doing now. Remember: the Council had inspected in in July 2016 and the owner was subsequently prosecuted and appeared in Court in September 2017. You would expect the owner to have learned his lesson and to have kept things a lot better – right?
Wrong. On 11th October 2017 the FSA website was reporting that the Dhaka Biryani had been inspected again on 19th January 2017. In the category of “hygienic food handling”, the performance was rated “generally satisfactory”. However, in the two other inspection categories – “cleanliness and condition of facilities and building” and “management of food safety” – the restaurant was assessed as “major improvement necessary”.
Has there been any improvement over the last ten months? We have asked the Council to explain the position.
•If you suspect a business to be falling foul of food hygiene legislation, contact the Council on 020-7364 5008 or email:
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