THE owner of a Wigan takeaway has been fined £8k for numerous “serious breaches” of food hygiene and safety regulations.
Hong Jung, owner of the Lucky Star Chinese in Ashton, was yesterday ordered by magistrates to improve his standards after pleading guilty to 10 offences.
A court hearing was told Wigan Council environmental health officers asked for the Lucky Star to be closed in October 2014 due to a risk to public health because of a mouse infestation.
Jung, 47, voluntarily closed the takeaway and it reopened soon after – once steps had been taken to tackle the rodent problem.
But at a later inspection in April last year officers found further hygiene breaches. The 10 charges related to these two inspections.
On the initial visit, as well as finding mouse droppings in food preparation and storage areas, officers were told a wash basin that contained raw chicken was used by staff to wash their hands.
A number of cross-contamination risks between raw meat and other foodstuffs were also found.
And in one storage room, a box containing bags of flour had been covered with newspaper to prevent mice from getting in because droppings had been found.
Magistrates also heard a hole in a window frame close to a food storage area had been plugged with a raw onion to stop mice from getting through.
The court heard Jung had told the officers this was something the mice “did not like, because it was spicy.”
The Whitledge Green takeaway received a hygiene improvement notice in November 2014 and was subjected to several inspections in the coming months, Alison Henderson, prosecuting, told the court.
During the April inspection, three more breaches were recorded, including the storage of ready-to-eat prawn crackers in a box previously used for raw chicken.
Plus a bucket of soaking noodles was “visibly dirty” and potato peelers and tin openers “contained food debris”.
Ms Henderson added that officers had visited the Lucky Star on Monday January 4 and staff had been ordered to throw out a quantity of prawn crackers that had been stored in a contaminated box “despite this food safety breach being one of the charges they were being charged with today.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Jung, who represented himself, said he had struggled to overcome a language barrier during inspections but indicated he understood the harm he may have caused.
But the court was told all decisions relating to the business were sent in writing and the letters included a recommendation in Cantonese to have the details translated.
Ms Henderson said: “Ignorance of the food safety laws is no defence. Business owners themselves hold the responsibility to ensure they are aware.”
Jung was ordered to pay £660 for each of the 10 charges, reduced from £1,000 for his guilty plea, plus costs, totalling £8,319.
Addressing Jung, the presiding magistrate said: “This is a serious case of breaching food safety and hygiene. You have failed to ensure you are a fit and proper person to operate a food business which demands a high level of public trust.”
Lucky Star recorded a one rating for its most recent food hygiene inspection. Julie Searing, Wigan Council business compliance manager, said: “It is extremely disappointing when businesses fail to meet an acceptable level of hygiene. We prefer to work with businesses to help them improve however in some cases we pursue formal action.”
l The latest round of food hygiene inspection results will be featured in next week’s Wigan and Leigh Observers.