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Fine for hygiene offences at restaurant

Pot of food stored in dirty conditions in rear store. Photo: Portsmouth City Council

A restaurant boss has been told to pay more than £4,750 after admitting a catalogue of hygiene offences.

Bakr Ahmad, 44, of Sarah Restaurant in Fawcett Road, Southsea, was given food safety advice by Portsmouth City Council's environmental health team in 2014, soon after he took over the business.

But he failed to take it, the city's magistrates court heard.

A year later, in February 2015, a council officer found conditions were so bad that the restaurant presented an imminent health risk to customers and staff.

Dirty drain in rear of premises Credit: Portsmouth City Council

An inspection revealed very poor cleanliness, a very poor state of repair, inadequate hand-washing facilities and concerns about pest protection, food temperature control and staff training.

Dirt, grease and food debris had accumulated in areas where food was handled and stored.

Surfaces were filthy and there was a significant food contamination risk.

Raw meat stored on top of ready-to-eat food Credit: Portsmouth City Council

A fan had been installed inside a charcoal grill, creating an electrical and fire risk, and food was stored in a dilapidated shed.

Mr Ahmad agreed to close voluntarily while some improvements were made, allowing the business to reopen.

But by July, despite repeated visits, he had still not complied with notices ordering him to have a suitable food storage area and food safety system, and get a gas safety check done.

Dirty toilet in rear of premises Credit: Portsmouth City Council

He admitted 11 food hygiene offences and three offences of failing to comply with notices.

As well as £3,000 in fines he was ordered to pay a £40 victim surcharge and costs of £1,727.

Cllr Robert New, the council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Community Safety, said: "We try very hard to work with restaurants to make sure they are practising good food safety, but if they ignore our advice then we have to take action to protect the public, including court action if necessary."