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Six of the weirdest ways restaurants have failed health inspections

If you’re eating your lunch, look away now.

November saw a surge in sanctions against restaurants in the UK, with many going to unusual extremes to flout health code violations.

Earlier this month, for example, a bakery in Enfield was fined more than £150,000 after inspectors discovered a tennis racket being used to mash potatoes.

We’ve rounded up some of the worst offenders over the past decade, with restauranteurs in London and beyond failing at everything from basic cleaning to pest control.

From uncouth kitchen tools to broken glass, keep scrolling to see just how weird health inspections can get.

Smashed potatoes in Enfield

The question on everyone’s lips is: why? (Photo: Enfield Council)

Health inspectors were “astonished to find a filthy, potato-covered tennis racket in a bowl of boiled spuds,” according to the Daily Mail last week, in a “filthy bakery” in the London borough of Enfield.

The premises are used by two shops – Doce Bakers and Sweet Mahal – which sold desserts, sweets, samosas and other baked good.

It is believed staff rested the racket on top of the bowl and mashed the potatoes by pushing them through the strings – or even grating them into the bowl.

The two companies were ordered to pay out a whopping £152,823.23 in total after being prosecuted by Enfield Council.

Enfield Council’s cabinet member for environment, Councillor Daniel Anderson, said: “Enfield Council has a duty to protect our residents and we won’t hesitate to act wherever and whenever necessary to protect them against any risk to their health.”

“We take a dim view of any food outlets whose premises aren’t kept in an hygienic state for the manufacture of food. Our residents have the right to expect the food they buy to be safe to eat.”

Laundering in West London

(Image: iStock)

A Chinese takeaway called Eat Well is currently under investigation after pork strips were left hanging out to dry with the laundry.

The ironically-named London takeaway company serves a range of pork-based dishes, but locals were left nauseous after seeing strips of meat hanging on a washing line outside the restaurant.

Local paper Get West London reached out to Eat Well’s owner Andy Yeung, who apologised and said the incident “wouldn’t happen again.”

“It was for our own food, it was being left out to dry for our own Chinese food, definitely not for the customers.”

Hillingdon Council is currently investigating the incident after the news broke on Friday 24 November.

Eat Well has a long history of lacklustre hygiene, and in February 2016 the restaurant scored a Food Hygiene rating of two, and was told it required improvement by the Food standards Agency.

Hillingdon Council told the drinks business: “We take the safety and well being of our residents very seriously and so can confirm that the premises referred to have been subject to a full food hygiene inspection and investigation to address these issues – and we will be addressing the outcomes with the business concerned. The council will always actively challenge and enforce against any organisation that does not comply with food hygiene regulations.”

A bucket of trouble in Salt Lake City

(Photo: iStock)

Over in the USA, things aren’t much better. Earlier this month the Salt Lake City County Health Department closed a local Vietnamese restaurant down after identifying a staggering 89 health code violations, more than 35 of which were critical.

The health department told AoL it shut down East Sea Restaurant in Salt Lake City for a wide range of violations, including mice and cockroaches, but one stood out amongst the rest.

Health inspectors said a bucket used to store frozen shrimp in the restaurant’s walk-in freezer was, in fact, “a hospital bucket for vomit.”

They also said that food being stored in containers previously containing toxic chemicals, containers soiled with feces, live cockroaches, flies and mice in the basement, and staff keeping medication in placed where it could come into contact with food also led to the restaurant’s closure.

The restaurant’s manager refused to comment on the inspection, but a hand-written note was posted on the door assuring customers it wold re-open on 20 November.

Understandably, the news has prompted a series of one-star reviews on East Sea’s Facebook page.

“If the staff and owners of this restaurant did it once, just imaging what they’ll do after reopening, when they think no one is watching and the health inspector went away for a while,” read one review.

Shattered dreams in Croydon

A recent consumer food and drinks trend report by market researcher Mintel found that toying with texture will be a big thing for chefs in 2018, but we doubt this is what they had in mind.

The owners of Croydon’s Babylon Inn were slapped with a £93,000 fine back in 2015 after the Food Standards Agency uncovered a catalogue of appalling health violations in the South London curry house.

Dr Mardan Mahmood, the director of the company which owns Babylon, and his wife Hend Hamude were found to be responsible for “appalling” breaches of FSA standards during inspections which dated back to 2013, according to the Evening Standard.

The inspector who did not wish to be named cited a number of serious violations including mouse droppings in the walk-in-fridge, cigarette butts littered around the restaurant, building rubble and disused equipment strewn throughout kitchens, and even broken glass in food preparation areas.

Mahmood was banned from managing any food business indefinitely.

Picky eating in Arizona

(Photo: iStock)

One health inspector in the US was left dumbfounded after he was forced to give one restaurant’s staff a lesson in basic hygiene.

Cecil Newell, Public Health Protection Section Manager for Yavapai County Community Health Services in Arizona, told The Daily Courier that, on one occasion, he was carrying out a routine inspection when he caught a line cook picking his nose while assembling the burger.

Newell told the cook to take off his gloves, wash his hands and put on a fresh pair, but the cook turned around and asked him why.

He told reporters: “I said ‘I just saw you pick your nose,’ and he said ‘It’s ok, I’ve got gloves on.’”

“Apparently, gloves are magic and they don’t get contaminated like your hands do.”

The “World’s Dirtiest” restaurant in Bayswater

Trip-advisor reviews can be harsh, but you know you’ve really messed up if you’re crowned the “dirtiest restaurant in the world” on the website.

The owner of Bayswater Greek place Zorba’s Taverna was issued a lifetime ban from running restaurants indefinitely after it was raided by health and safety officials (yes, raided).

The restaurant was littered with cockroaches and mouse droppings, and — skip this if you’re eating right now — live sewer flies were found in a tahini dip, according to the Times.

But wait, there’s more.

Rat hairs and droppings were found on the floor, on the counters and over equipment, raw meat was kept on a filthy floor, and a dirty mincer was covered in mouse droppings.

Owner Pavlos Pittas, 60, admitted four charges of failing to protect food from vermin at Westminster magistrate’s court in September 2017.

“Prohibition orders are not made often and only in the most extreme circumstances,” said Judge Margot Coleman, who fines his company £12,800 for a “complete disregard” for the wellbeing of his customers.

“In all my years dealing with these sorts of cases your restaurant is one of the dirtiest that I have seen. The fact is there’s a continuing trend over a long number of years of appalling hygiene in your premises.”


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