A council in England has prosecuted the previous owner of a restaurant for failing to comply with food safety regulations following a food poisoning outbreak in late 2022.   

Surrey Heath Borough Council prosecuted the former operator of Mogul Restaurant in Bagshot. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £25,000 ($31,400), a victim surcharge of £2,000 ($2,500) and the council’s costs of more than £14,000 ($17,600).  

The restaurant was also temporarily shut at the time of the outbreak under emergency prohibition provisions to protect the public whilst necessary improvements were made.  

In total, 18 confirmed cases were part of the Salmonella Java outbreak and four people were admitted to hospital. All of those affected ate at the restaurant between Oct. 22 and Nov. 1, 2022. 

Investigations into the specific food item responsible were inconclusive. However, Salmonella was detected in environmental samples from a fridge door handle and in chopped coriander. 

Shaun Macdonald, from Surrey Heath Borough Council, said the investigation and prosecution case was complex and thanked environmental health and legal teams for their work.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind all food businesses in the borough of their food safety responsibilities. These are laid out in law and the council will not hesitate to take action against those who do not prepare food safely to the required standards. We want residents and other guests to really enjoy eating out and having special times with friends and family, without any concerns for their well-being, by ensuring the highest food hygiene standards are in place,” he said. 

Several seizures of smokies
Meanwhile, Milton Keynes City Council’s environmental health team has seized almost 270-kilograms (595 pounds) of smokies.

Smokies are made from the meat of sheep and goats with the skin still attached and cooked using a blowtorch or similar method, to minimize costs and maximize profits. Their production and sale is illegal in the UK.

The council found smokies at three premises in Milton Keynes after receiving a tip-off and confiscated the unfit meat. Condemnation orders were issued by Milton Keynes Magistrates Court.

“The illegal trade in smokies is a serious public health risk, as the meat can be infected with diseases and parasites that could be passed on to consumers. It is extremely important that meat sold to the public is fit for human consumption and we will consider prosecuting anyone found to be selling illegal meat,” said Paul Trendall, cabinet member with responsibility for environmental health.

In June, smokies were found at a shop in Gravesend after environmental health officers carried out an unannounced inspection at Moyibo Foods.

Staff initially denied having any smokies on site but a search identified some unlabeled smokie meat in a chest freezer along with prepacked and unlabeled meat, which was removed from the premises and destroyed.

Several breaches of food and health and safety legislation were identified, and the business was required to close for urgent work to be carried out. A follow-up visit the next day found the premises had been cleaned and re-organized with repairs to electrical sockets and reinstatement of the hot water system, so it was allowed to re-open.

In March, a shop in Katesgrove was fined after illegal food products were discovered by Reading Council’s environmental health team.

Officers went to Freddie’s Afro-Caribbean in Reading in February 2023 for a routine hygiene inspection. During the visit, a goat carcass and three part carcasses – known as smokies – were seized after being found wrapped in black bags on the floor of the chiller unit, for collection by a customer.

Carcasses were unskinned, spines had not been removed, and they did not have an approved health identification mark. Meat sold in the UK must carry this mark. The owner was unable to show the required paperwork when asked and there were no details about where the meat had been sourced.

At a hearing at Reading Magistrates Court, justices approved the condemnation and destruction of goods. Frederick Otoo, director of Freddie’s Afro-Caribbean, was ordered to pay £2,025 ($2,550) in costs to the council.

Karen Rowland, from the council, said a routine inspection was able to uncover something much more serious.

“The production and processing in this manner with this kind of meat has been deemed illegal in this country because we are unable to guarantee the correct steps have been taken to make the goods safe. We remain vigilant against potentially unsafe food finding its way to the UK unchecked or examined without accompanying documentation. All food businesses must be able to provide a clear audit trail of where produce has come from,” she said.

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