The owner of a filthy takeaway - storing rotting cucumbers and tomatoes covered in mouse droppings - was fined tens of thousands of pounds after a surprise inspection.
Fried chicken shop Mama's Kitchen, in Northolt Road, Harrow , was so filthy and infested with vermin that even its food safety guide was found covered in dirt on the floor.
Despite being pulled up on hygiene issues back in 2012, owner Kalpana Ashokumar, 37, of Claredon Court, Harrow, claimed she was too busy looking after her children to know her shop was riddled with mice.
A surprise inspection at Mama’s Kitchen, which sells fried chicken, kebabs and pizza, found the kitchen, storeroom and serving area where meals were made covered in rodent droppings and rotting food on the shelves.
Mice were able to come and go through gaps between doors, unsealed drains and damaged ceiling panels. Overflowing bins and rotting food found on the floor were also contributing to the infestation.
Cllr Graham Henson, cabinet member for environment, crime and community safety said: “This is the stuff of kitchen nightmares – someone could have ended up in hospital.
"It’s our job to protect customers and we’ve done that today."
Ashokumar pleaded guilty to all seven counts of food hygiene breaches, at Willesden Magistrates Court on April 25, and in total was asked to pay £24,905, says Harrow Council.
Cllr Henson added: “This huge fine is totally deserved. Despite all our efforts to help Mrs Ashokumar, she failed to bring her business up to scratch.
"I want to be completely clear – when we find businesses in a disgusting state, we will make them pay.”
The court heard that Harrow Council had attempted to help and give training after hygiene issues were first discovered in 2012.
Ashokumar claimed that over the past four years she had been spending a lot of time with her children and was not aware of the issues.
But the court ruled that, as the business owner, the responsibility and failures of the shop stopped with her and she was ordered to pay a £21,000 fine for seven offences, £3,735 legal costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
Ashokumar is banned from running a food business ever again and Mama’s kitchen will be monitored regularly. Unless there is a management change and significant improvements are seen, it will face action to close.
Ashokumar has been asked to step down as business owner of Mama’s Kitchen which currently operates with a Food Hygiene Rating of one.
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