Restaurant which hid zero hygiene rating sticker with umbrella fined £10,000

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A restaurant which hid a zero hygiene rating sticker behind an umbrella has been ordered to pay more than £15,000.

JT3, in Fishguard, western Wales, was issued with a Food Hygiene Rating of zero following an inspection by Pembrokeshire Council’s public protection division in March 2019.

During the inspection, the restaurant’s basement kitchen was found to be in “a poor state of cleanliness and repair, with no disinfecting cleaning products or soap available, an inadequate water supply and flies present”.

Inspectors found no evidence of any food safety management system in place and, as a result, issued the business, which advertises itself as providing “top quality food” with the zero rating, WalesOnline reports.

On a return at a later date to check the premises, inspectors found that, while improvements had been made, the business had failed to display its hygiene rating sticker – a legal requirement in Wales. A new sticker was supplied to the restaurant, which was given a warning.

On subsequent visits, however, that new sticker was seen placed behind doors and then behind an umbrella that was hanging down, blocking it from view. The council then issued a fine for failing to display the sticker, which went unpaid.

On December 13, 2019, another inspection was carried out and, despite being told that the business was closed, officers found that a “substantial amount” of food preparation was going on and that conditions had deteriorated again. This resulted in another zero hygiene rating being issued.

Less than a week later, the situation was so bad that two visits had to made in one day.

This led to a notice being served by the council to prevent the manufacture of chicken liver parfait and duck, along with improvement notices served in an attempt to address training and to ensure that safety procedures were put in place.

These notices were not complied with and the food hygiene rating sticker was once more hidden from view, something the council said was done deliberately.

The directors of JT3, Daniel Wynne Jones and Lois Thomas, along with their company Me‘n’u1 Ltd, pleaded guilty to a number of offences at Haverfordwest Magistrates Court on Friday (July 3).

They were fined a total of £10,700 and ordered to pay costs of £4,571.11 and victim surcharges of £240.

Daniel Wynne Jones was also banned from operating a food business.

Pembrokeshire Council said the business had misled customers and that the case represented a first in the county whereby a restaurant’s hygiene had actually become worse after receiving a zero hygiene rating.

A spokesman for the council said: “This is unprecedented in the history of the Food Hygiene Rating scheme in Pembrokeshire where a business has scored zero twice and conditions have deteriorated rather than improved across the two inspections. 

“Despite the best efforts of our officers to move this business towards compliance, the food business operator continued to flout food safety regulations and mislead customers about his food hygiene rating.

“The decision of the court to prohibit him from running a food business and the level of fine reflect the seriousness of this case.”

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