2 May 2014

Owner fined £10,000 for food hygiene breaches at greasy brasserie

The owner of a Hove brasserie has pleaded guilty to16 food hygiene breaches and was fined over £10,000 by Brighton Magistrates Court last week (Thursday, 1 May 2014).

Council health inspectors found such a significant build up of grease that not only was it a hygiene issue but also posed a fire risk. Amongst other things, they found dirty brooms hanging from the kitchen ceiling where they could contaminate crockery below.

Proceedings against the company previously running the restaurant, Pascals Brasserie Ltd, were withdrawn after it went into voluntary liquidation at the beginning of April but Mr Pascal Said Madjoudj of the Brasserie Pascal, 6 Queens Place, Hove was successfully prosecuted by Brighton & Hove City Council.

During the court hearing, Mr Madjoudj admitted that he ran the brasserie and three other restaurants in Brighton & Hove.  The District Judge ordered him to pay a fine of £8,000 together with £2769.26 costs and £50.00 Victim Surcharge, making the total to pay £10,729.26.

When the council’s health inspectors visited the restaurant on 11 February 2014 for a routine food hygiene inspection they found standards of cleanliness and food hygiene practice were very poor.  

There was a significant build up of grease, dirt and food debris on the floor and down the wall behind cooking equipment in the kitchen. The floor was greasy and slippery and there was a build up of dirt and food debris in the floor drain.  Walls and pipes behind cooking equipment and under sinks were also dirty, as was the floor in the bar. Council officers found that routine cleaning was not being adequately managed and procedures for disinfecting surfaces and equipment were inadequate. 

Grease filters were missing from the ventilation system and there was a fire risk from grease which had built up inside.  The meat slicer and fly machine needed cleaning and there was an infestation of fruit flies.  The disabled toilet was affected by damp and the extractor fans in the ladies’ toilets were not working.  Lights were not working in the kitchen and storeroom/preparation area, where pests could gain access because glass was missing from the window.  Records of hygiene checks and staff training had not been filled out since June last year.

The hot and cold water to the kitchen hand basin had also been turned off and there was no soap for washing hands. 

On a revisit on 12 March 2014, an inspector saw there was still grease and dirt in the kitchen, the ventilation system had not yet been properly cleaned and glass was still missing from the window.  The fans in the toilets had not been repaired and the damp in the disabled toilet had not been treated.  Some lights were still faulty.  Work surfaces and equipment were still not being properly disinfected.  A microwave had a badly split door, the meat slicer needed cleaning again and was dangerous to use because electrical terminals were exposed.  There were still concerns about poor hand washing, a lack of food safety records and inadequate staff training.

The District Judge asked the defendant why the general state of the restaurant had got so bad and Mr Madjoudj replied that it was due to the recession and because a manager was in charge.  The Judge told Mr Madjoudj the charges represented a kitchen which was in an insanitary state and was putting the public at risk. 

Councillor Pete West, chair of the city’s environment committee, said: “This was an extreme case and the business failed to take notice of our officers’ advice to clean up. We understand that businesses have been affected by the recession but by far the majority of food outlets in the city take hygiene extremely seriously and many achieve a higher standard than is required. We will continue to work with businesses to improve standards and we will continue to pursue those who refuse to take action when needed and put their customers at risk."