A number of food businesses in Dudley have been served with court papers demanding they pay large fines after being found to have overseen poor hygiene standards on their premises.
The Stourbridge News has told of several examples of local restaurants and takeaways being hit by penalties following environmental inspections. For example, Mohammed Hassani, owner of Godfather Pizzeria, has been fined £7,334 after admitting his guilt in relation to 11 offences.
He was prosecuted by Dudley Council after several examinations of his site in Brierley Hill. These took place in December 2011 and June 2012 and found he was not adhering to the latest rules and guidelines.
Mr Hassani's business was not keeping its premises clean, had failed to wash equipment adequately, was not storing raw ingredients in the right manner and had not passed on the correct training to food handlers.
Another firm to suffer a similar fate is the Lucky House Chinese restaurant. The business was hit with a court bill totalling £3,000 after it appeared at the same hearing as Mr Hassani.
In its case, mouse droppings were discovered on site when inspectors visited, while other concerns included dirt, flaking paint, peeling wall paper and mould. Poor cleanliness standards were also observed and there was even a hole in the wall.
Commenting on the wave of incidents, councillor Tracy Wood, cabinet member for environment and culture, said: "People have a right to expect the highest standards of cleanliness when they eat out. We offer help and advice to companies on maintaining this high standard, but will not hesitate to prosecute those who continually fail to comply with the law."
The cases in Dudley could provide a reminder to restaurants and takeaways around the UK that they must adhere to the relevant regulations in order to avoid prosecution for poor hygiene.
Failure to do so can land businesses in trouble with their local authority and potentially lead to fines and other forms of punishment being dished out in court.