BY TOBY PORTER~
A restaurant owner has got off with just a £1,500 fine despite flagrantly and repeatedly ignoring inspectors’ warnings to clean up his act.
Douglas Otunyo was sentenced after his outlet, The Lush Bar and Restaurant, in the Old Kent Road, had mouse infestations in its kitchen and dinning area – and exposed cuts of meat tossed unwrapped in a bucket.
But he received a £1,500 fine, £971.40 costs and £150 victim surcharge at Camberwell Green Magistrates’ Court, on May 15.
Southwark council inspectors revealed that previous interventions and advice from its food standards team had failed to make any impression Otunyo.
Town Hall inspection history for Lush Bar and Restaurant, 280 Old Kent Road, Walworth, showed the business had achieved very poor food hygiene ratings in the three previous inspections.
Conditions improved shortly after each inspection, but were never maintained.
During a hygiene inspection in February 2018, the kitchen floor, walls and equipment were found to be filthy and slick with grease, which can attract cockroaches and mice.
Unwrapped raw cuts of meat were also found tossed on a plastic bucket, exposed to contaminants and vermin.
The inspection resulted in a Food Hygiene Rating score of one, indicating “major improvement necessary.”
At a further food safety inspection, February 26, 2019, council officers discovered that, if anything, hygiene and cleanliness had got worse.
Council officers hoping to see a marked improvement in the cleanliness and pest problem on March 2 instead found the cleanliness was still completely unacceptable.
They decided Otunyo was endangering his customer’s health and the restaurant was closed down.
Councillor Victoria Mills, cabinet member for finance, performance and Brexit, said: “It is only right that we challenge such flagrant disregard for public health in the courts.
“I sincerely hope that the next time council officers visit the premises it is sparkling clean.
“However, we are sincerely disappointed with the leniency of the courts in this instance; especially given that Mr Otunyo clearly put the health of the public at risk for so long.
I would hope to see a sentence more befitting of the danger posed in similar cases, moving forward.”
Otunyo’s offences were that he failed to ensure the food premises are kept clean and maintained in good repair and condition and failed to ensure that all fittings and equipment with which food come into contact are effectively cleaned, and, where necessary disinfected