Fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) was ordered on 10 May to pay £18,452.80 at the City of Westminster Magistrates Court after pleading guilty to food hygiene offences ranging from failing to keep the premises clean, failing to control pests, and failing to provide hand wash facilities for staff.
This is exactly the sort of case Westminster City Council has been working hard to try to avoid with their Aiming High in Pest Control initiative. This aims to improve standards of hygiene in food premises by building effective relationship between pest controllers, environmental health officers and food businesses.
The flagship KFC restaurant in Coventry Street near Leicester Square, pleaded guilty to breaching five counts of food hygiene regulations in August 2008, after council inspectors visited the restaurant following complaints from diners about poor hygiene.
Richard Block, head of food, health and safety at Westminster City Council, said: “The standards of hygiene at this restaurant were appalling and simply unacceptable. A fast food chain of the size and stature of KFC should know better, and I am amazed their head office allowed such an important flagship restaurant to decline to these low levels.
“The restaurant industry is a vital part of our economy, and we will not tolerate any behaviour which could jeopardise it or the safety of our millions of visitors. I hope this case sends a clear signal that we will take firm action against any restaurant which puts the health of its diners at risk.”
The court heard how during an inspection of the premises, council inspectors found a cockroach on a chip near takeaway boxes and the tongs used to serve food, saw a mouse and dried chicken blood on the floor, and found that there was no hand wash dispensers available in the food preparation area.
District Judge Howard Riddle fined the food chain £10,500 for the five offences, and ordered the firm to pay £7,937.80 in costs and a victim surcharge of £15.
Four months prior to the inspection, the branch received a ”specific warning” from the council, voicing concerns about hygiene practices.
This branch has now undergone a £600,000 refurbishment and the contractor employed to deal with pest control problems has been changed at all their UK branches.