Food hygiene inspectors found a restaurant in a filthy state during a visit.
The team called the discovery "the worst case of neglect at a restaurant in the past 15 years" after finding poor food storage, and poor food handling processes at Lilo Grill in Plasnewydd, Cardiff.
The business owners Sabz Ali Khan, 77, and Sabrina Khan, aged 41, were fined heavily in court this week after being found guilty of 18 food hygiene offences following a trial.
Sabrina Khan was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £1,000 in costs, and Sabz Ali Khan was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,500 in costs. The legal food business operator of the business, Nightcover Limited, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £6,500 in costs.
Sitting at Newport Crown Court, Judge Richard Williams explained how inspectors found evidence of the presence of rats in the restaurant, and described its food handling processes as "nauseating". He also added that food was being stored in conditions likely to render it "unfit for human consumption", Wales Online reports.
The judge said: "The picture presented of Lilo's Grillhouse in City Road, Cardiff, as it was when it was inspected in 2019, was one of behind the scenes squalor. There was clear evidence of ingress by rats and accumulated filth of equipment which was inadequate or in disrepair, food handling processes which were simply nauseating, the provision for recording matters were token at best, and the recordings which were kept had been falsified by one or more persons who made them.
"Equipment such as thermometers and temperature probes which were necessary to test food for safety purposes were missing, broken, or those present didn't know how to use it. Food was being stored in conditions likely to render it unfit for human consumption, there was no established regime for maintenance of equipment or replacement of worn out equipment or pest control. There was no apparent appetite for those responsible to manage the restaurant and do anything other than trade.
"The principle person responsible was Mr Sabz Khan. When the restaurant was inspected, there was a deal of obfuscation and he did the bare minimum to secure the re-opening of the restaurant and had a foot dragging approach in carrying out measures to improve the restaurant and adopted a combative approach. The failure on Sabrina Khan's part was failing to do what a company director was supposed to do. There is no evidence she was directly involved in the management of the restaurant. Her ability to mitigate what was found was hampered by her relationship with her co-accused."
Speaking after the court case, Cardiff Council cabinet member responsible for shared regulatory services, councillor Dan De'Ath said: "I have been reliably informed by the case officer that this is the worst case of neglect at a restaurant that we have come across in the past 15 years.
"Not only was the state of the property an absolute disgrace that put their customers at risk, but the manager was also very unhelpful and obstructive throughout the investigation. To top it all off, the argument he used in his defence that the rats in the restaurant were due to the proximity of students living in the area, is quite honestly laughable.
"If you own or run a food business, you have responsibilities which are laid out in law. If you do not follow the correct practices and allow your business to go into a state of disrepair, you are putting your customers at risk of disease and infection."2023-03-24T11:32:37Z dg43tfdfdgfd