Rotting rat found in County Durham takeaway, as owner pleads guilty to hygiene offences

A council inspection found multiple hygiene issues at a County Durham takeaway. Credit: Durham County Council.

A decomposing rat was found beneath cooking equipment in a kitchen takeaway following a health inspection.

Environmental health officers from Durham County Council made an unannounced inspection at Santinos in Front Street, Sacriston, on 7 March 2023.

They also discovered the premises was dirty and in a poor state of repair, cooking equipment was not being cleaned properly, and staff had received inadequate food hygiene training.

Mohamad Ali Ghanbarzadeh Behbahani, of Cravenwood Road, Reddish, Stockport, was the owner of Santinos at the time.

The 38-year-old pleaded guilty to six food hygiene charges at Peterlee Magistrates Court this week.

Mr Behbahani pleaded guilty to six breaches of the Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013. Credit: Durham County Council

Magistrates heard that Mr Behbahani had been running the takeaway since June 2020, but had failed to notify Durham County Council, despite this being a legal requirement.

Following the inspection, Mr Behbahani signed a voluntary closure agreement to keep the premises closed until satisfactory improvements had been made.

On returning to Santinos later that month, environmental health officers were satisfied with the improvements Mr Behbahini had made - and the business was allowed to reopen.

It went on to receive a 3-star ‘satisfactory’ food hygiene rating, but Mr Behbahani decided to close the business later that year.

The court head Mr Behbahani was apologetic during interview and pleaded guilty to the charges at the earliest opportunity.

Officers found the business posed a threat to public health. Credit: Durham County Council

The business is now permanently closed.

Mr Behbahani was ordered by the Magistrates to pay £660 in fines and costs.

Joanne Waller, head of community protection services at Durham County Council, said: “Food hygiene laws are in place to protect the public from what could potentially be life threatening illnesses.

“Our environmental health team supports food businesses in County Durham to improve and maintain their food hygiene standards.

"However, as this prosecution demonstrates, we will also take action against those who fall seriously short in their duty to ensure food is prepared in a safe and hygienic way."

Have you heard our new podcast Talking Politics? Every week Tom, Robert and Anushka dig into the biggest issues dominating the political agenda…