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Last Updated: Monday, 4 September 2006, 17:48 GMT 18:48 UK
Fine for mice infested restaurant
A Chinese restaurant infested with mice and cockroaches has been fined 22,000 for breaching food safety regulations.

The Golden Dragon in Gerrard Street in London's China Town was closed after an inspection by Westminster Council food safety officers last year.

City of Westminster magistrates heard mouse droppings were found in storage areas and on clean plates and meat appeared to have been gnawed by mice.

Leadfield Ltd admitted 11 breaches of food safety standards.

The company was fined 2,000 for each breach and ordered to pay 325.16 costs.

There were basic failures to protect raw food from contamination
James Armitage, Westminster City Council

The court was shown photographs taken by inspectors on 8 August, 2005 showing black mould growing on kitchen floors, walls, doors and pipes.

James Armitage, of Westminster City Council's food safety team, said peeling paint was falling from the ceiling on to food in the meat drying room.

"There were basic failures to protect raw food from contamination, there was no soap or hand drying facilities in the kitchen", he said.

Chef sacked

Mr Armitage said there are more than 5,000 restaurants in Westminster and "this is one of the worst examples I have ever seen".

Gary Grant, defending, told the court that a new head chef, brought in three months before the inspection, was to blame for the situation.

"Leadfield Ltd take full responsibility for the actions of their chef but he did the minimum possible... and that's what led to the state of the kitchen," he said.

Four days after being issued with an emergency prohibition notice the restaurant was allowed to reopen after it carried out necessary work to remove the risk to public health.

Mr Grant said the restaurant had since sacked the chef, spent 60,000 refitting the kitchen and had employed a hygiene consultant.

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