Boss of rat-infested takeaway hits back at ‘unfair’ zero star rating

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Food hygiene inspectors slammed Chicken Hut in Beeston, Leeds, and gave it the lowest possible rating before shutting it down. They had discovered a rat infestation at the restaurant and said “urgent improvements are necessary”.

But the owner Hamzeh Mohammed, 44, has hit back at the criticism, arguing he took over the takeaway four days before the inspection on July 5.

The dad-of-one, who’s been in the takeaway industry since 1999, said: “My plan was to clean as we go. I didn’t’ see a lot of it, it looked clean. It was like behind the sink, at the bottom of the sink, they picked on lots of small things.

“I took over the place and hadn’t seen any of this. They came and found it. We got a contractor who sorted it all out, what to block and what not to block. There’s no rat droppings now, there’s nothing, it’s all been completely refurbished.

“It was really unfair, they were picking on lots of small things. I forgot to appeal to it because I was busy doing the things what they asked me to do. I’ve bought all the equipment and what he wanted me to do.”

He has sacked the two smokers in his staff who both denied dashing their cigarette butts in the sink, and has provided training for the other food handlers, Leeds Live reports.

The inspector, working on behalf of Leeds City Council, wrote: “Rat droppings found inside a food utensil box and on work surface where dried food powders were stored.”

The inspector told the business to arrange pest control and block off holes found in the basement wall where pests could enter. They also found multiple “dirty” areas which needed cleaning and no written food safety management system or allergen matrix in place.

The inspector told Hamzeh, “your food hygiene knowledge was poor” and told him to put food handlers through training. They said the food container lids in the basement were “dirty” as well.

They noticed that raw chicken was stored above cooked chicken and salad in the walk in chiller and a raw burger was put on a chopping board for ready to eat food.

Hamzeh is now in the process of renaming the business Chicken Hot.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said on a routine check-up, Hamzeh had complied with the inspector’s instructions and would have to pay for a new inspection to improve Chicken Hut/Hot’s rating.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson, said: “All food businesses in Leeds are regularly inspected by Environmental Health Officers on a risk-basis to check their compliance with legislation all food businesses must follow and which are designed to protect food safety and public health.

“To protect public health it is vital that food businesses are kept clean, in good repair, have all the necessary facilities, and have effective food management practices in place.

“The initial inspection at Chicken Hot did identify a number of areas of non-compliance and was awarded a zero hygiene rating. There was a follow up enforcement visit in July and the premises is now compliant with food hygiene standards, however the rating will not change unless the business submits a request for a re-visit.”

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