St Albans pizza takeaway fined for poor hygiene

Pizza Gogo

Pizza Gogo - Credit: Archant

Breaching hygiene regulations at a pizza takeaway store in St Albans - where ‘slimy meat’ was served as a topping - has resulted in its former operator being ordered to pay £2,000.

Pizza Gogo

Pizza Gogo - Credit: Archant

It is the second time in a year that Pizza GoGo, in London Road, has been found contravening rules.

Laxmi Reddy, 39, of High Wycombe, Bucks, appeared at St Albans Magistrates’ Court for sentencing last Thursday (13) after pleading guilty to five breaches of health, food safety and hygiene regulations at Pizza GoGo.

Magistrates told Reddy that he would have to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work in the community within the next 12 months – which “would have been 180 hours if you had not pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity”.

He was ordered to pay £2,000 to the district council in costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

A hygiene prohibition order was also served, in line with a request from the council, banning Reddy from operating a food business for a minimum of six months.

The five offences he had pleaded guilty to included failing to comply with a hygiene improvement notice, which had been issued by the council on September 4, 2013.

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He also admitted to contravening food safety and hygiene regulations, as door seals on a chiller were split, and he had not ensured that food handlers were supervised and trained in food hygiene.

In a breach of health and safety regulations, Reddy failed to make sure damaged and loose electrical socket boxes were maintained to prevent danger, and failed to make sure the lead to the dough machine was maintained.

Karen Dempsey, prosecuting, referred to a previous case where Parizon Ltd, trading as Pizza GoGo, was successfully prosecuted by the district council in August last year.

The company was ordered to pay around £10,000 for breaching hygiene regulations in St Albans. Ms Dempsey said that following press coverage of that sentencing, Parizon Ltd had become concerned.

She said it was believed that Reddy had been informed that it was no longer appropriate for him to hold the franchise for the pizza outlet, and thus he was ‘no longer the franchisee’.

Despite the large fine, when compliance officers visited Pizza GoGo in September last year, they found continued breaches as problems raised previously had not been resolved.

The court heard that during a check of the premises inspectors noticed slimy meat, curling up at the sides, being used to top pizzas.

And a probe used to monitor the temperature of food was not cleaned properly – with staff using water and a paper towel “which isn’t acceptable to prevent cross-contamination”.

She added: “It was the fourth time that recommendations had been made [to clean equipment properly] to Mr Reddy, and it wasn’t being complied with. There was a lack of training, and the buck stops with Mr Reddy ... [who] had been a director of Parizon”.

Ms Dempsey described the split door seals on the chiller as “dirt traps”.

Chris Fairweather, defending, said that Reddy had “invested £50,000” in the franchise.

He added that, “£32,000 had to be spent because of the age of the building, including on equipment such as the chiller. He had considerable problems trying to replace the seals as the chiller is no longer available.

“He asked the franchisor for help. In relation to staff training, he arranged for an individual to go on a hygiene course.”

Mr Fairweather said there had been no ‘victims’ despite the various breaches, as no diners had complained of illness after eating the pizzas, so there was no loss or harm done.

He added: “Mr Reddy has pleaded guilty. He is a family person trying to run a business properly. This is the second prosecution.”

Financially it had been a ‘disaster’ for Reddy. For hygiene scores of all restaurants and takeaways click here.