Published July 07, 2017 11.52am
A takeaway owner has been forced to pay more than £1,000 after indicating his premises had been awarded a five star food hygiene rating despite actually only holding a level two rating.
On Thursday, 2 June 2016, environmental health officers from Durham County Council undertook a food hygiene inspection of Jim's Golden Fry on Stockton Road in Seaham, during which time he picked up a menu flyer displaying an image indicating it had been awarded a Food Hygiene Rating of five.
It was later identified that the business had not been awarded a level five rating since 2012 and in fact had scored a two on its last inspection.
The leaflets also displayed a Seafish Friers Quality Award mark, despite the fact this award ceased to exist in 2011 and has since been replaced.
At Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court, business owner Harpreet Singh pleaded guilty to both charges but said it was an old leaflet, that he did not know when it had been produced and that he had never distributed to houses within the area.
Following further enquiries, the producer of the leaflets confirmed they had supplied 25,000 of the leaflets to Singh during October 2015.
The 27-year-old, who has owned the takeaway since the middle of 2014, added that the business currently has a food hygiene rating of two and said the mistake had been made by his cousin who had copied someone else's menu.
Singh was fined £667 - which would have been close to £1,000 if not for the guilty plea - and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £66 and costs of £616.42.
Joanne Waller, Durham County Council's head of environment, health and consumer protection, said: "Customers have the right to make informed choices about where they purchase their food and we regularly carry out inspections to ensure the public are protected and legal standards are maintained.
"This case should serve as a warning that business owners are responsible for demonstrating correct and up-to-date information and that anyone failing to do so may pay a heavy fine."