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Restaurateur breached health and safety laws

16 November 2020

THE OWNER of a Henley restaurant has been ordered to pay more than £22,000 after South Oxfordshire District Council successfully prosecuted the company for breaking a number of food hygiene and health and safety laws.

On 6 November at Oxford Magistrates Court, Mr Tahsin Kan, aged 39, of Bartholomew St, Newbury, as sole director of Mezo Restaurant and Café Ltd, Market Place, Henley on Thames, pleaded guilty (on behalf of the company) to nine charges. The magistrates fined the company £2,000 for each of the eight food hygiene offences and £4,000 for a healthy and safety offence.

They also imposed a victim surcharge of £181.00 and awarded the council full prosecution costs of £2,513.22 – a total of £22,694.22. As the sole director, Mr Kan is responsible for paying this sum.

The court case followed a series of inspections by South Oxfordshire District Council environmental health officers between September 2018 and May 2019 after a number of breaches of food safety and health and safety laws were found to have taken place at the restaurant.

These included inadequate hand washing facilities for staff, a poor standard of cleanliness in the areas where food was stored and prepared and equipment (such as chopping boards) were found to be mouldy and a poor condition. Kitchen staff used knives for raw food and cooked food without being cleaned in between uses. No gas safety certificate was available to confirm if the gas hob used in the kitchen was being maintained in safe condition which presented a risk of fire, gas leaks, explosion and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning to staff and the public.

Officers attended the restaurant several times over nine months, during which time they found minimal progress was being made to improve conditions. In April and May 2019, the council environmental health officers served three formal improvement notices on the company requiring specific works to be completed by a date specified on each notice.  

On 28 May 2019, officers made what was to be the final visit to see if the restaurant had complied with the improvement notices and the list of contraventions highlighted to them at previous inspections. It was apparent to officers that the recurrent failures to comply with health and safety and food hygiene laws posed an increased risk of food poisoning and injury to staff and anyone visiting the restaurant.

As Mr Kan had declined to engage with the council to make his restaurant compliant, the council had no option but to begin legal proceedings.

The restaurant closed in 2019.

Cllr David Rouane, South Oxfordshire District Council cabinet member for housing and the environment, said: “The council’s environmental health officers inspect food premises across the district to ensure the safety and health of staff and customers.

“They will always work to help companies improve if their standards fall below what is required by law. However, if restaurants ignore the warnings and advice, the council is duty bound to prosecute to protect people’s health.”