Leeds restaurant fined after bug poisons 23

COURT HEARING: Paul Lui, right, manager at Red Chilli in Leeds, and Clifford Hui, who was brought in by the firm to retrain staff in food hygiene.
COURT HEARING: Paul Lui, right, manager at Red Chilli in Leeds, and Clifford Hui, who was brought in by the firm to retrain staff in food hygiene.
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A Chinese restaurant in Leeds was at the centre of a major salmonella outbreak which poisoned 23 people.

At least 17 customers and six members of staff were struck down by the infection after dining at the Red Chilli restaurant in Great George Street.

The outbreak sparked an investigation by health inspectors, who uncovered a catalogue of hygiene failures at the premises.

Yesterday, (August 31) Red Chilli Restaurant Limited was fined £3,000 and also ordered to pay court costs of £3,000.

The charges related to unsafe food storage and preparation, ineffective temperature controls, cross-contamination of raw and cooked food, unclean utensils, containers and sinks and a failure to change significant registration details – contrary to Food and Hygiene regulations.

The charges were not linked to the salmonella outbreak but the investigation that followed.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the inspections, carried out from July 20 to August 5 last year, found that the eggs used in dishes such as special fried rice were all cracked open and put into one container which was not properly dated or kept at the right temperature.

Food was not cooked to the required temperature meaning bacteria was not killed and different chopping boards and containers for meat and vegetables were not identified.

The investigation also found that staff did not know what the court heard staff had told inspectors that they had never cleaned the meat slicer because they did not know how to dismantle it.

A box of pork in the walk-in freezer had also fallen over leaving meat on the floor.

Inspectors also observed staff jumping over the counter and putting feet on work surfaces.

Steven McGarry, mitigating, said: “It is unattractive, I concede that. But the company is not being prosecuted for an offence relating to an outbreak of salmonella.

“It is important to emphasise the immediate reaction of the company, which voluntarily chose to shut down its operation and address the concerns.

“Steps taken involved a revised safety manual, in a language understood by staff. Further training of kitchen staff has been taken out by Clifford Hui at the expense of the company.”

Chairman of the bench Mr TS Sangra said: “The bench feels that these matters aggravated the charges. Firstly the lack of training and understanding of the food hygiene rules and regulations, then the cross contamination and safe keeping of food. These offences were committed within a very short period of time and the company has co-operated and engaged with council officials.”

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